By Dr. Maria Iliut, CTO of Grafine Ltd.

A new spin-out company, Grafine Ltd., has been established by the University of Manchester academics to develop technologies and products using graphene-enhanced elastomers, with support from the University’s business development arms exemplifying a proactive approach to translating academic outputs to real-world impact.

Graphene, the atomically-thin yet super-strong material, will be incorporated into elastic polymers like rubber by a new University of Manchester spin-out company, to create stronger, more durable and multi-functional materials for a broad range of applications.

As a result of their characteristic mechanical properties, elastic polymers, or elastomers, are one of the most widely used groups of materials in the world. They can be found in applications as diverse as the automotive sector, sporting goods, construction and medical consumables. Tens of thousands of businesses supply elastomeric materials, components and finished products. The global market size for rubber and elastomer products is forecast to be more than £70 billion by 2021. These businesses are continually striving to improve the properties of elastomeric compounds in order to enhance product performance in both existing and new applications. The relatively recent discovery that graphene and other nano-materials can be used to create new families of high performance hybrid composites has opened up the possibly of rapidly accelerating the introduction of a host of new formulations, tailor-made for specific industrial applications.

Grafine Ltd. is a new business spun-out of the University of Manchester in the UK, the “Home of Graphene”. Our mission is to collaborate with global industry partners to create new types of high-performance elastomers enhanced with graphene and other 2-D materials and nano-materials. Graphene can further improve the already excellent properties of rubber and elastomers by improving their strength, elasticity, flexibility, thermal stability, resistance to chemicals and durability.

The founders of the business, Dr. Maria Iliut and Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, have been at the forefront of research in this area. We have built the specialist know-how both in developing these hybrid elastomer formulations and scaling up processes that allow them to be used in the manufacture of products.

Grafine Ltd will be based at the University of Manchester’s Innovation Centre on Grafton Street and will use the University’s world-class facilities including the brand-new Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) for its product development work.

The University’s wholly owned subsidiary, Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd (GES), has supported the academic founders and, with assistance from UMI3 Ltd (the University’s IP commercialisation company), created Grafine Ltd. GES and UMI3 have provided support with identifying target markets and partners, developing a business plan, developing and testing demonstrators and prototypes, pitching the business to investors, and a range of other activities which university academics are typically not trained to undertake, and require dedicated expertise to accomplish. The University of Manchester is also an early-stage investor into the business.


Published: 17 September 2018