UK-founded graphene-based electronics technology company Paragraf announces today the close of its £12.8m Series A round led by Parkwalk. The round also included investment from IQ Capital Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners and Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, as well as several angel investors. The funding will see Paragraf’s first graphene-based electronics products reach the market, transitioning the company into a commercial, revenue-generating entity.
Graphene is the original wonder material, with multiple incredible properties including being the most conductive material in the world, incredibly strong but flexible, capable of withstanding very high electrical powers and has great thermal integrity. The material, for example, can potentially replace silicon in computer chips, providing a performance speed increase of up to 1000 times, while reducing the energy used by up to 50 percent.
Until now, manufacturers have struggled to harness the benefits of graphene. Paragraf is the first company to deliver IP-protected graphene technology using standard, mass production scale manufacturing approaches, enabling step-change performance enhancements to today’s electronic devices. The company’s first sensor products have already demonstrated order of magnitude operational improvements over today’s incumbents. Achieving large-scale, graphene-based production technology will enable next generation electronics, including vastly increased computing speeds, significantly improved medical diagnostics and higher efficiency renewable energy generation as well as currently unachievable products such as instant charging batteries and very low power, flexible electronics.
Paragraf has completed a highly successful seed phase, delivering a manufacturing facility, graphene layer production and first device prototypes significantly ahead of plan. Focus now switches to delivering products with strategic volume device production partners, and commercialisation of the first device – a super-high sensitivity magnetic field detector that operates over temperature, field and power ranges that no other device can currently achieve.
Dr Simon Thomas, CEO and Co-founder of Paragraf, said: “This funding marks the start of the next phase in Paragraf’s growth. I am extremely proud of the young team at Paragraf who have collectively delivered the early strategy milestones with great skill. This next phase will allow Paragraf to makes these truly game-changing technologies a reality. Paragraf is continually seeking like-minded collaborative development, production and commercial partners to accelerate the delivery of the many exciting electronics technology opportunities graphene has to offer.”
Alastair Kilgour from Parkwalk commented: “Parkwalk has been impressed by the strong progress the management and company have made since the seed round and is delighted to lead this funding round. We believe that Paragraf is well-equipped to deliver the unique benefits of graphene to their customers and licensees, which in turn will enable transformative products.”
About Paragraf: Paragraf is a spin-out from the 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 has developed atom-layer-thick two-dimensional materials, with a focus on graphene. Through its growing IP portfolio, Paragraf is applying these materials to a range of advanced electronic, energy and medical devices to benefit society.
About Parkwalk: Parkwalk is the largest growth EIS fund manager, backing world-changing technologies emerging from the UK’s leading universities and research institutions. With £250m of assets under management, it has invested in over 100 companies across its flagship Parkwalk Opportunities EIS Fund as well as the award-winning enterprise and innovation funds Parkwalk manages for the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol.
Parkwalk invests in businesses creating solutions to real-world challenges, with IP-protected innovations, across a range of sectors including life sciences, AI, quantum computing, advanced materials, genomics, cleantech, future of mobility, medtech and big data.
About IQ Capital: IQ Capital is a venture capital firm, based between Cambridge and London, that invests in ‘deep-tech’ across sectors including machine learning, AI, robotics, and advanced engineering and materials, and data-focused propositions based on disruptive algorithms. All of the firm’s portfolio companies are capable of dominating their respective markets on a global scale. Initial investments range from £300k to £5m, with capacity for follow-on investment up to £30m.
The IQ Capital team has achieved over 20 exits to date, to companies including Oracle, Google, Apple, Huawei, and Facebook, and several IPOs. IQ Capital has led 28 investments over the last three years. The firm is currently investing at seed and Series A stage from its third venture fund.
About Amadeus Capital Partners: Amadeus Capital Partners is a global technology investor. Since 1997, the firm has raised over $1bn for investment and used it to back more than 130 companies. With vast experience and a great network, Amadeus’ 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 healthcare and digital media.
Early stage investments we’ve made include rare disease treatment discovery platform Healx, massively parallel simulation platform Improbable; Graphcore, innovators in intelligent microprocessors, and speech recognition company VocalIQ (acquired by Apple).
About Cambridge Enterprise: Part of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Enterprise supports academics, researchers, staff and students in achieving knowledge transfer and research impact. We do this by helping innovators, experts and entrepreneurs use commercial avenues to develop their ideas and expertise for the benefit of society, the economy, themselves and the University.
Liaising with organisations both locally and globally, we offer expert advice and support in commercialisation and social enterprise, including help with academic consultancy services, the protection, development and licensing of ideas, new company and social enterprise creation, and seed funding.
About Draper Esprit: Draper Esprit is one of the most active venture capital firms in Europe, developing and investing in disruptive, high growth technology companies. We believe the best entrepreneurs in Europe are capable of building the global businesses of the future. We fuel their growth with long- term capital, access to international networks and decades of experience building businesses. Currently, Draper Esprit is a shareholder in a diverse portfolio of companies including Trustpilot, UiPath, Transferwise, and Graphcore. For more information please visit www.draperesprit.com.
About Partners Investment Company: Partners Investment Company (“PIC”) is an investment management firm founded by Cato Stonex, Mark Evans and Magnus Spence-Jones in 2017. All three worked together at THS Partners, where Cato and Mark were senior partners, managing capital from a variety of institutional clients with peak AUM of circa. $20bn.
PIC focusses on concentrated, fundamental investments, primarily in European small and medium sized companies. The team has extensive experience of identifying and investing in early stage, high growth trends and sectors, including tech and biotech.