Competitions news

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Prestigious award establishes new graphene start-up

A University of Manchester scientist has won a prestigious award for his business proposal to develop a range of graphene-based inks for printed electronics.

Daryl McManus, winner of the Eli and Brit Harari Award
Daryl McManus, winner of the Eli and Brit Harari Award

Daryl McManus, a PhD student at the University, is the recipient of this year’s Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award.

The £50k prize is designed to support the early stage implementation of a commercially-viable business proposal from students, post-docs and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on the many and varied applications of graphene.

The prize money will be used to help found a new graphene start-up company based on producing graphene inks which have been a key area of interest for researchers. A compressed graphene ink RFID tag was recently unveiled by the University.

Daryl’s proposal to harness the superlative properties of graphene in developing graphene inks for printed applications impressed a panel of judges against twelve other entries.

New applications in printed electronics demand more concentrated inks that can be deposited in more consistent and environmentally friendly ways. Daryl’s proposed water-based inks provide an answer.

Daryl, 24, who is currently undertaking his PhD within the Graphene NOWNANO Doctoral Training Centre said: “Our environmentally friendly 2D material inks provide a cheap, scalable solution to the production of next generation flexible and transparent electronics.

“The Eli and Britt Harari award gives us the opportunity to take our unique inks from the laboratory to the marketplace where their properties can be exploited by both businesses and researchers to create a new generation of printed devices.”

The judging panel felt that Daryl’s was the most complete proposal, bringing together a compelling and viable business case supported by a credible application of graphene-based technology. Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President Research and Innovation who led the judging panel commented; “The University is strongly committed to bringing the benefits of research to the economy and society. It is particularly pleasing when students get the opportunity to take their ideas into the market. This award provides a flying start for what I am sure will be a successful entrepreneurial career.”

Eli Harari, a University of Manchester alumnus and founder of SanDisk started the annual award three years ago to help create more graphene start-up companies. The award helps recognise the role that high-level, flexible early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business, targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene.

This year’s competition, which attracted 13 viable expressions of interest, was promoted and supported through the use of on-line resources, information sessions and business planning workshops involving the Manchester Enterprise Centre, UMI3 and last year’s winner, Dr Antonios Oikonomou.

With the recently opened National Graphene Institute providing world-class facilities and the high-profile conference Graphene Week 2015 attracting researchers from around the world to the University, it is expected that interest in this annual competition will grow substantially.

With the University’s ambition to create a Graphene City this award could provide a valuable leg-up for many innovative graphene start-ups to be based in Manchester.

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