There were talks throughout the day about the challenges faced in commercialising research outputs, and discussions about how government policy could help to remove barriers to industrial take-up.
The BIS delegation spent the morning at Begbroke Science Park, where Professor Nicole Grobert’s Nanomaterials by Design research group is based. The day kicked-off with an overview of the ways in which industry and academia work together, followed by a lab tour. Professor Grobert explained her group’s work on nanomaterial production and showed examples of different forms of carbon-based nanomaterials, including graphene ‘paper,’ with potential uses in filtration, and graphene ‘foam,’ with uses in energy storage technologies. Dr Madhuri Dutta of Zapocharger Ltd (formerly of the Nanomaterials by Design group) then gave a presentation about the company’s graphene supercapacitor-based charger technology for smart phones and computer tablets.
The afternoon session saw the delegation relocate to Williams Advanced Engineering in Grove, where Technical Director Paul McNamara led the group on a rare tour of their workshop, which included a closer look at the Jaguar CX-75 as seen in the recent James Bond film ‘Spectre.’ Returning to discussions, there was input from all sides on the barriers to translation, and how government can help to address these challenges.
Andrew Culley, Senior Policy Advisor for the BIS Innovation Directorate, said, "The company case studies provided both at Begbroke and Williams were helpful in providing practical illustrations of the great commercial potential of nano-materials and graphene. Whereas discussions about the difficulties of commercialising at scale within the UK gave us a useful over-view of this aspect of the graphene story".
A tour of the Williams museum then capped off a productive day of dialogue between industry, the University and government.