Graphenea, technological located in San Sebastian (Europe) and Cambridge, MA (USA) and dedicated to the research and production of graphene, has been selected by the Horizon 2020 program 'SME Instrument' of the European Union for the enlargement and growth of its industrial project due to its pioneer character, disruptive and technologically advanced.
The project of the firm has been one of those selected from the 614 submitted by as many other European SMEs. This support will result in the construction, installation and commissioning of a new production plant that will multiply production capacity by 200 times and consolidate its global leadership in the sector. The transaction involves an investment of $2.5 million euros and will have twenty highly skilled laborjobs.
Jesus de la Fuente, Founder and CEO of Graphenea, after receiving the official communication, said, "it is a very important boost that will accelerate our business plan. It will allow us to grow faster and consolidate our position as the global leader in our industry. "
"We want to be the best in the worldwide graphene synthesis. Without any doubt, this support from the EU reaffirms our eagerness to reach this ambitious goal. We will continue looking for application and distribution partnerships to develop the graphene market.”, he added.
The guarantee: Results and Customers
The project presented by Graphenea to the Horizon Program “SME Instrument”(the European version of the SBIR program)is supported by the good results that the company is obtaining both in research field and in the grapheme production. The process developed and patented by Graphenea is highly efficient and environmentally friendly.
The graphene is a material under development –with new applications that are discovered every day- which is currentlyused in advance polymers, battery electrodes and sensors. The world market in 2014 is estimated at about $12 million.
Graphenea currently employs 13 professionals, mostly PhD in Chemists, and has closed 2014 with more than 400 customers in 50 countries and a turnover of around$1.2 million(10% of world market share, approximately). In its customers portfolio there areleading international firms like Intel, Nokia, IBM, Philips, Repsol, BASF and Sigma-Aldrich, among others.
Operating plant in 24 months
The 'SME Instrument' will contribute with $1.8 million to the project that will target the construction, installation and optimization of a pilot production plant of high-quality graphene for industrial applications. This is a relevant milestone in the Grapheneadevelopment in an emerging market that recognizes the high quality of the materials produced by the company.
The construction and equipment installation of the new plant will take 24 months. If all goes as planned, the new facility could open in late 2017.
De la Fuente has advanced that "in the first year of implementation of the pilot plant, it will allow us to increase our revenues and address the emerging global market for graphene". He also said that "if the phase pilot plant is successful, Graphenea will move to an industrial phase that will require a larger investment."
In a first stage, the pilot plant will be limited to an annual production of 1 ton per year imposed by the European regulation of new chemical products. Graphene is a new material that has not yet passed the registration process required by the European regulations for new substances, so its production or import is limited. Graphenea has begun the process of registration and certification of their materials to overcome this regulatory limitation. Thus, the firm will become the first producer to record the graphene for industrial use in Europe.
The main graphene market demand is the United States, on which it highlights the activity concentration in the Boston area. According to the firm, it is where there is the biggest potential for growth at this moment and in the coming years. For that reason, and in parallel to the pilot plant project, it has been decided to open an Applications Laboratory in the MIT campus. "We must be close to the market," concluded Jesus de la Fuente.