Next week, graphene leaders and experts from across the globe come together to connect, collaborate and discuss the development and future of the 2D material, as part of this year’s Global Graphene Expo in Austin, Texas.
Last year in Nashville, the event set the scene for a new era in U.S. graphene. Hosted by the National Graphene Association (NGA), who had only been officially operational for 6 months or so by this point, the conference attracted international leaders within the graphene space—from both the academic and industrial sectors. It was set to be an industry, investment, regulatory and standards focused conference that could aid in propelling the U.S. graphene market to new heights and to help steer the general commercialisation of graphene, and it didn’t disappoint.
The scene of the conference was already set behind closed doors after the NGA advisory board met up the day before the official start date of the conference. After long discussions between industry leaders, academic researchers and other major players in the graphene space, it was obvious that a key aspect of this conference would be around how to overcome the major issues in the large-scale production of graphene, and in particular, the standards surrounding the products produced by industry. Whilst this was the case for the most part of the conference, in both the formal talks and informal discussions, the conference did also bring other aspects including investor pitches, academic advancements and efficient networking options. So, in all it was very successful and was well-received by many in the graphene space.
So, what can we expect this year?
This year, the NGA’s Global Graphene Expo is set to be even bigger and better, and is taking place in Austin, TX, on the 15th-17th October 2018. Once again, I have the pleasure of attending, including on the 15th October, which will again be reserved for the members of the advisory board and those who wish to participate in the shareholders meetings. The first day will also see the investor pitch sessions—which is an event not open to the general conference attendees, where start-up companies will pitch their ideas to a series of international investors, and it aims to help facilitate more private investment in the graphene space.
As for the conference itself, it will be a graphene-packed two-day event with a significant focus on trying to foster collaborations within the graphene community through multiple networking opportunities. Whilst last year had a dedicated network session, this year’s speed networking session will occur much earlier on in the conference and will hopefully give attendees the chance to get to know each other better. Even though the number of delegates attending this year has grown from last year, there has been an emphasis to not make the conference too large (less than 200 delegates) so that people can effectively discuss ideas throughout the event.
As far as conference talks go, there will be plenty on offer, with a significant presence from the UK, including Versarien, Haydale and The National Graphene Institute (NGI). This is in addition to companies from Europe, Australia, Canada and the US, as well as academic researchers from various institutions.
Two key sessions of note for the conference are the various panel discussions, including a keynote panel featuring global leaders in the graphene industry, and the roundtable discussions. Whilst the talks are important to keep up with what is happening in the world of graphene, especially on key issues such as standards, the roundtable discussions will offer attendees the chance to join in the conversation and ask questions to key people in the field—something which they wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to do with a conventional panel discussion.
Hopefully, as with last year, the conference will become an incubator for graphene ideas to be discussed and grown, and with all the various opportunities for pitching, networking and general graphene discussions, it looks as though this year’s conference will deliver as well. I will let you know my thoughts once I return from Austin.
Written by Liam Critchley