BUSINESS WEST – CONNECTING BUSINESSES INNOVATION News and information on innovation in the South West

Securing collaborative project with South Korea

How promising international partnerships emerge from joining GBIP missions (and by talking to fellow passengers).

It was a bus ride in South Korea that has started a journey of discovery. When Ali Rohafza, director of graphene-based sensing technologies company Altered Carbon, joined an Innovate UK-funded, EEN South West- organised Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) visit to South Korea in March, he found himself seated on the bus next to Sundeep Bhandari, strategy manager (digital sector) for the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). As a direct result of their conversation,

Altered Carbon returned to South Korea in November with the aim of securing a place on a collaborative project with the country’s world- ranked science and technology institute - the National Nanofabrication Centre of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The company’s follow-up trip was also

courtesy of GBIP, the programme which is designed to help UK SMEs exploit growing opportunities within the high-growth and innovative industries. The focus of the November visit was advanced materials.

Potential Eurostars project KAIST’s director has since come to the UK for discussions with Altered Carbon, a spin-out from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and the Middlesex- based National Physical Laboratory regarding a

16 insight JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

proposed Eurostars/Eureka project which would involve UK and South Korean partners.

Exploring collaborations Altered Carbon and NPL are now exploring collaborations in up to five areas, including the project with KAIST. “There are a number of ways in which NPL can help us as the UK's National Measurement Institute,” said Ali. “We have developed one of the very few commercially available graphene sensors on the market so we can be useful to them in establishing the highest measurement standards.” Another venture being actively

Sundeep Bhandari added: “Altered Carbon

were new to us but the partnership we made sitting on that bus has proved really significant. They are a bit special in being a developer as well as a systems integrator.” Sundeep had been on the South Korea trip to

‘Altered Carbon and NPL are

now exploring

collaborations in up to five areas’

explored relates to a ‘cross-feed’ project, with NPL supplying the measurement and test expertise. It will help Altered Carbon accelerate their technology while allowing NPL to further develop UK capability around graphene as an emerging technology.

The bus ride conversation “The opportunity with KAIST probably wouldn’t

have come up if I hadn’t sat beside Sundeep on the bus when we arrived in South Korea in March,”Ali said.

investigate possible collaborations or partnerships for NPL, whether commercial or to fulfil its remit to support ambitious, high-growth businesses. He said: “We can help them

accelerate their revenue growth – that’s a massive win. They can then go out and gain more investment and higher profile

for their business.” Overall, the March trip was extremely valuable for NPL. Sundeep added: “Spending time with all those UK organisations to

learn more about them and sharing what

NPL can do in terms of support in the UK, was worth its weight in gold.” Ahead of the November visit, Ali said: “We are

really excited about the prospects of returning to South Korea as we believe there is a real market opportunity for our technology. “In addition to developing our relationship with

KAIST, the itinerary will enable us to meet many more research organisations and companies and explore other collaboration partnerships.”

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