Graphene Research and Innovation Approaches

Purpose: Graphene is anticipated to have potential applications in electronics, such as depicted in the International Roadmap for Semiconductors, to build semiconductors beyond the limits of silicon-based technology. Graphene also offers promising applications for higher performance photon sensors, solar cells, and LCD screens. Yet, graphene is still at the development stage, and its commercialization pathway remains to be determined. Two of the world’s leading centers for graphene development are the University of Manchester and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Manchester is the site of seminal work on graphene (including laboratory production of graphene). Georgia Tech is the site of a National Science Foundation-funded Materials Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), focused on research and development on epitaxial graphene, building on the work of Walt de Heer in the School of Physics. Both institutions have researchers that are among the world’s most highly cited for graphene R&D. Yet, while both Manchester and Georgia Tech are graphene research powerhouses, they are located in metropolitan regions which have weaknesses in terms of relevant technology clusters, venture capital, and large-scale success in high-tech entrepreneurship. This project seeks to understand similarities and differences in the plans, programs and approaches to commercialize graphene related applications in both locations, including strategies for R&D and strategies to foster commercialization in terms of external partnerships (elsewhere in the country and internationally) and in the metropolitan regions of Manchester and Atlanta.

Project: This project involves two key initial activities. The first is to undertake interview visits with leading graphene researchers at the University of Manchester, with technology commercialization units at the University, with companies developing graphene applications, and with innovation promoters in the city and region. The second is to develop co-research plans to undertake an analytic study of graphene related output, collaboration networks, and  industry linkages at Manchester and Georgia Tech, in comparison with a selected set of other leading world graphene R&D centers.

Anticipated Outcomes: There is the potential to establish a model of emerging technology and innovation partnership which will be of interest to other institutions and cities in the UK and USA. Beginning with graphene, there should be insights of value for other emerging technologies (including in nanotechnologies such as quantum dots and synthetic biology, also strengths in both Manchester and Georgia Tech). We aim to produce a database of graphene-related publication, patenting, corporate activities, and linkages for Manchester, Atlanta, and other benchmark locations.


Maps of Graphene Research Centers

Sponsor: UK-US Collaboration Development Award (CDA) from the British Embassy and British Consulates; Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, under sponsorship from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award No. 0531194).

Contacts: Jan Youtie, PhD, Principal Research Associate, Enterprise Innovation Institute and Adjunct Professor School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0640 USA; Email:; or Philip Shapira, PhD, Professor of Innovation, Management and Policy, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, M13 9PL, UK; Email: