Realising Graphenes Potential

Paragraf closes £2.64m seed round to drive first large-scale production of graphene based technologies

Company’s unique method produces graphene adapted to commercial end uses

September 21st 2017

Paragraf, the graphene technology development company, a recent spin out from the University of Cambridge, has closed a £2.64 million seed round to support the development of its first major products. The round is led by Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, with the participation of Parkwalk Advisors, Amadeus Capital Partners, IQ Capital Partners, Martlet, the investment arm of Marshall of Cambridge Group, and a small group of angel investors: Dr Anthony Colletta, Julian Beare, John Halfpenny and Chair of Cambridge Angels Peter Cowley.

Paragraf focuses on the production of ‘two-dimensional’ materials, primarily graphene, and the development of devices based on these materials. Due to its extremely high conductivity, superb strength, very low weight and ultimate flexibility, graphene is the ideal material for use in many next generation technologies. The immense market opportunities for graphene have seen billions of dollars of corporate and public investment in R&D aiming to realise the value of the material, but problems persist.

Using a novel, proprietary approach Paragraf has overcome the common problems of poor uniformity, reproducibility, limited size and material contamination that affect current graphene manufacturing techniques. Delivering functionally active graphene, with properties specifically targeted at its application, for example, electrical characteristics tuned to deliver very sensitive detectors, this production breakthrough finally enables graphene technologies to be realised at a commercial scale.

Dr Simon Thomas, CEO of Paragraf, said: “There’s no doubt that the electronic, mechanical and optical properties of two-dimensional materials such as graphene have the potential to induce paradigm shifts in a multitude of state of the art technologies. However, until materials like graphene can be delivered in commercially viable, device compatible, functionally targeted forms the considerable achievements demonstrated at lab scale will not be transferred to real world technologies. At Paragraf we have developed the first production technique that allows true scaling of graphene based devices.”

Prof. Sir Colin Humphreys, Chairman of Paragraf, said: “Graphene has been called the new wonder material, because of its potential to transform a range of industries such as electronics, energy and healthcare. However, so far, its applications have been limited because good quality graphene is only available in small flakes. Our underlying research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the company aims to transform production by providing good quality large-area graphene.”

Tania Villares Balsa, Investment Manager at Cambridge Enterprise, said: “Paragraf is a great example of how a University of Cambridge spin-out merges the work of academics, entrepreneurs and early stage investors to bring potentially world-changing technology to market.”

Amelia Armour, Investment Manager, Early Stage Funds, Amadeus Capital Partners said: “Paragraf’s solution represents a real breakthrough in producing scale quantities of high quality graphene. The company has a formidable team built out of Sir Colin Humpreys laboratory at Cambridge. Amadeus foresees the Paragraf’s first commercial applications to be in graphene research and the semiconductor industry but the possibilities are endless.”

Ed Stacey of IQ Capital commented: “While the huge potential of Graphene has been understood for some time, graphene based products have not achieved the widespread industry adoption they deserve. This situation is set to change with Paragraf’s innovative and disruptive design and manufacturing process for high-quality graphene, which will for the first time enable large scale production of graphene technology and devices.”

Parkwalk Advisors commented: “The work of Sir Colin Humphreys and his team at The Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge is recognised as exceptional amongst their peers. The experience of the team at Paragraf in Industrialisation gives the platform for the long-awaited commercialisation of Graphene at scale and price which will open many new profitable opportunities for the material.”

Dr Anthony Colletta comments: “At the theoretical level graphene has the potential to revolutionise many large and important markets, as well as opening new opportunities. The only problem is that nobody has been able to manufacture uncontaminated graphene at scale. Paragraf’s novel technology and exceptional team are about to transform theoretical applications into practical use.”

Peter Cowley, serial entrepreneur and chair of the Cambridge Angels added: “I am excited to join and assist the journey of another great team from Cambridge University, scaling the production of a technology that has huge potential in both social outcomes such as desalination, and commercial returns.”

About Paragraf:  Paragraf is a spin-out from the high-profile Centre for Gallium Nitride group of Professor Sir Colin Humphreys in the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge.  Building on significant know-how and IP, Paragraf will develop atom-layer thick two-dimensional materials, starting with graphene.  Through its growing IP portfolio Paragraf will apply these to a range of advanced electronic, energy and medical devices to benefit society.

About Cambridge Enterprise: A wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Enterprise Limited is responsible for the commercialisation of University intellectual property. It provides access to early stage capital through the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds, University of Cambridge Enterprise Funds and Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners, and offers business planning, mentoring and related programmes. Activities include management and licensing of intellectual property and patents, proof of concept funding and support for University staff and research groups wishing to provide expert advice or facilities to public and private sector organisations. For more information, please visit: www.enterprise.cam.ac.uk

 About Parkwalk: Parkwalk (www.parkwalkadvisors.com) invests in high growth, knowledge intensive companies seeking to develop and commercialise technology and innovation originating from UK universities, research intensive institutions and technology clusters.
Founded in 2009, Parkwalk is the largest EIS growth fund manager focused on university spin-outs, having raised over £125m to date and backed over 75 companies across its managed funds since inception. In February 2017 Parkwalk was acquired by IP Group plc, a FTSE 250 company with a market capitalisation of £1bn and the UK’s leading developer of intellectual property-based businesses. The Parkwalk investment vehicles include the evergreen Parkwalk Opportunities Fund, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Funds, the University of Oxford Innovation Funds and the University of Bristol Enterprise Funds.

About Amadeus Capital Partners: Amadeus Capital Partners is a global technology investor. Since 1997, the firm has backed more than 130 companies and raised over $1bn for investment.
With vast experience and a great network, Amadeus Capital’s team of investors and entrepreneurs share a passion for the transformative power of technology. We invest in consumer services, financial technology, artificial intelligence, cyber security, medical technology, digital health and digital media. Early stage investments we’ve made include genomic research data collaboration platform Repositive, massively parallel simulation platform Improbable.io, Graphcore, innovators in intelligent microprocessors, and speech recognition company VocalIQ. To learn more visit https://amadeuscapital.com or follow us at @AmadeusCapital.

 About IQ Capital: IQ Capital invests in ground-breaking technologies and ambitious founders, capable of dominating their respective markets. IQ Capital invests early and helps to drive growth for the long-term. The IQCP team has achieved significant exits since 1997 including Autonomy (IPO), Imsense (Apple), Neul (Huawei), Phonetic Arts (Google), KVS (Veritas), Stillfront (IPO) and Sirigen (BD). The most recent £50m 2015 fund is actively seeking new investment opportunities. For more information, please visit www.iqcapital.co.uk