Graphene Research and Enterprise: Mapping innovation and business growth in a strategic emerging technology

This paper presents the results of research to develop new data sources and methods to understand and map enterprise development and commercialisation

Nesta Working Paper 15/14
Issued: August 2015
JEL Classification: L23 O32 O38
emerging technology, graphene, small and medium-sized enterprise, SME, innovation, mapping, data mining


This paper presents the results of research to develop new data sources and methods that can be combined with existing information for real-time intelligence to understand and map enterprise development and commercialisation in a rapidly emerging and growing new technology.

As a demonstration case, the study examines enterprise development and commercialisation strategies in graphene, focusing on a set of 65 graphene-based small and medium-sized enterprises located in 16 different countries.

We draw on available secondary sources and bibliometric methods to profile developments in graphene. We then use computerised data mining methods and analytical techniques, including cluster and regression modelling, to identify patterns from publicly available online information on enterprise web sites. We identify groups of graphene small and medium-sized enterprises differentiated by how they became involved with graphene, the materials they target, whether they make equipment, and their orientation towards science and intellectual property.

In general, access to finance and the firms’ location are significant factors that are associated with graphene product introductions. We also find that patents and scientific publications are not statistically significant predictors of product development in our sample of graphene SMEs. We show that the UK has a cohort of graphene-oriented SMEs that is signalling plans to develop intermediate graphene products that should have higher value in the marketplace.

Our findings suggest that UK policy needs to ensure attention to the introduction and scale-up of downstream intermediate and final graphene products and associated financial, intermediary, and market identification support.


Philip Shapira, Abdullah Gök, and Fatemeh Salehi Yazdi
Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

The Nesta Working Paper Series is intended to make available early results of research undertaken or supported by Nesta and its partners in order to elicit comments and suggestions for revisions and to encourage discussion and further debate prior to publication (ISSN 2050-9820). © Year 2015 by the author(s). Short sections of text, tables and figures may be reproduced without explicit permission provided that full credit is given to the source. The views expressed in this working paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Nesta.