Government Increases Funding For Graphene Research

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

George Osborne has pledged more funding to help British universities conduct graphene research

The British government is to provide further funding for research into the wonder-material that is known as graphene.

It has been reported that the Chancellor George Osborne will invest an extra £21.5 million in funding to some of the leading universities in the UK, in order to develop commercial uses for graphene.

Funding Breakdown

The extra funding will however be combined with the government’s previous funding investment of £50m into the technology back in October 2011.

It seems that the new funding will be made up of £12m from that 2011 funding, coupled with £10m from the science research council EPSRC. The new total of £21.5m will be allocated to specific universities in the UK. And it has been reported that these universities, alongside their industrial partners, will also commit £14m.

So which universities in particular are to benefit from the investment?

Well the lion share of the £21.5m funding will go to Cambridge University, which was awarded £12m for research into graphene flexible electronics and opto-electronics (think touchscreens and electronics).

London’s Imperial College meanwhile will receive over £4.5 million to investigate the possible aerospace applications of graphene. Funding will also go to projects at Durham University, the University of Manchester, the University of Exeter and Royal Holloway.

All of these universities will be working with their respective industrial partners including Airbus, Nokia, BAE Systems, Procter & Gamble, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce, Dyson, Sharp and Philips Research.

“The government moved quickly and decisively to make sure this Nobel Prize-winning technology invented here in the UK was also developed here,” said Mr Osborne on Radio 4’s Today programme.

”It’s exactly what our commitment to science and a proactive industrial strategy is all about – and we’ve beaten off strong global competition,” Osborne reportedly said. “Now I am glad to announce investment that will help take it from the British laboratory to the British factory floor. This shows that even in tough times we are investing in science which is vital to helping the UK get ahead in the global race.”


The government’s latest bout of funding for graphene highlights the excitement at its potential uses. Graphene is a sheet-like, two-dimensional material with a thickness of one carbon atom that is the most conductive substance yet discovered.

A variety of potential applications have been developed for graphene and it is expected by some to replace silicon as the primary material in electronic devices. Previous graphene research has focused on graphene transistors, self-cooling materials and even Internet acceleration.

In May 2012, IBM Research caught the graphene bug when it got into the Olympic spirit, and created images of the smallest Olympic logo that can ever be made: a graphene molecule consisting of five carbon rings.

The graphene funding comes after a host of big names backed a petition to get the government to spend the £4 billion it gets from the Ofcom-run 4G auction at the end of the year on science and technology.

The government has previously faced criticism for its lack of tech funding in these austere times.

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