The venture capital and angel investment marks a turning point for the 2015 Cambridge University spin-out that has invented new ways of producing graphene, two dimensional and an atom thick, so it is compatible with mass market electronics manufacturing. Although there have never been any doubts about the British invention’s sensational properties – strength, flexibility and high electrical conductivity - getting it out of the lab and into real world solutions has been much harder. Despite graphene’s life-changing potential to replace silicon in computer chips, make processors up to 1000 times faster and halve energy consumption, hurdles such as contamination, poor uniformity, limited size and reproducibility have curbed manufacture.
But these are the problems Paragraf’s innovations have solved, co-founder and chief executive Dr Simon Thomas explains:
“We use graphene we have created in-house. We aren’t a seller but a developer that realises new technologies that we take on to volume production with partners.
“Our approach delivers large area, high quality layers and materials. It allows the ready combination of different substances and layers without the need for transfer processes.
“The materials are suitable for direct application in devices at scale, something graphene had been unable to do before.”
Paragraf’s “deep, hard tech” and need for capital investment into equipment made it a difficult investment prospect initially.
But in 2017 £3 million seed funding, including Government enterprise backing, helped it deliver prototypes, get into its own production unit and start serious hiring. Today it has a team of 25 scientists.
Dr Simon Thomas,