Stephen Waite and Keith Blakely of the Graphene Stakeholders Association

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Stephen Waite

Stephen Waite

Stephen Waite and Keith Blakely are among the founders of the Graphene Stakeholders Association, a new force aimed at uniting key stakeholders for the benefit of everyone in the graphene marketplace. Graphene Tracker asked Steve and Keith some questions about the organization, current members, and their plans for the future.

Q: What is the Graphene Stakeholders Association?

The Graphene Stakeholders Association (GSA) was founded in the U.S. as a 501(c)6 non-profit organization in 2013 to help promote the responsible development of graphene and graphene-enabled technologies, as well as other 2-D materials and the innovations enabled by them. The GSA was created to foster education, technical collaboration, scientific exchange, value and job creation through successful development and commercialization of graphene and other 2-D materials.

Q: What are the GSA’s goals?

The GSA seeks to engage a diverse group of key stakeholders from around the world. We are building a global association composed of top researchers from academia and government agencies, private-sector CEOs, and other thought leaders with expertise in graphene and other 2-D materials. The GSA is creating a diverse and global platform to help:

  • Promote the responsible development of graphene products by supporting standards activities and fostering education and information exchange in an open-innovation forum.
  • Develop common and accepted nomenclature, definitions, standard metrology and testing methods, along with health, safety, and environmental standards by working collaboratively with international, national and industry-based organizations.
  • Facilitate and promote developmental efforts and highlight successful commercialization activities through networking and partnerships.
  • Monitor progress and develop action plans through regular web conferences and meetings.
  • Communicate the benefits and progress of the industry as a whole to public and private thought leaders and influencers including, where appropriate, governmental agencies and regulatory bodies.

In sum, we envision the GSA as becoming an important part a global graphene and 2-D material “rainforest,” along the lines articulated by Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt in their excellent book, The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.

Q: What methods do you plan to use to reach your goals?

We have started by focusing on the engagement and involvement of world-leading, independent metrology and standards organizations such as NPL and NIST. It is critically important for a new industry to be able to communicate amongst participants using terminology that is meaningful and accepted by all, employing test methods and characterization techniques that are well-understood and agreed upon as appropriate and meaningful, and working to establish standards and practices that will benefit all of the players in the market. Both of these organizations have not only joined the GSA but are taking active roles in the various forums and meetings that we have established and more that are planned. The GSA is also recruiting a diverse and talented advisory board, maintaining a website that includes a FORUM for members to collaborate and share knowledge, hosting monthly calls for members, organizing events such as meetings and webcasts. Our first event will be held at the University of Pennsylvania on October 17 in conjunction with the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association. To assist members with commercialization efforts, we make introductions via email or phone to institutional investors, CEOs, and other organizations that may be helpful to a member. The co-founders of the GSA all have experience as entrepreneurs working with nanotechnology and advanced materials. Members can leverage the deep and extensive networks of the GSA’s co-founders.

Q: Could you name some current members? What are their roles in the association?

Our first member was Spain-based Graphenea, which is led by Founder and CEO, Jesus de La Fuente. Jesus has been terrific from the start and we are delighted to have him on board. We recognize Jesus as a thought leader in the graphene community. As mentioned already, U.K.-based National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is a lifetime member and we are excited about their involvement. We see NPL as playing a vital role in helping to fulfill the GSA’s mission. NIST has requested involvement as a member and we are working behind the scenes to create a partnership that we see as complementing NPL.
Other members at the present time include Graphene Technologies (U.S.), XG Sciences, Graphene Frontiers (U.S.), Group NanoXplore (Canada), Haydale (U.K.), Xolve (U.S.) and Graphene Labs (U.S.). We see the CEOs of each of these companies as thought leaders helping to carry out the GSA’s mission, depending on their respective expertise. There are many other companies and groups that have expressed an interest in joining and/or partnering with the GSA. We are working hard behind the scenes on a daily basis to bring new members on board.

Q: What benefits can members expect?

It is envisioned that GSA members will be part of a premier global association that joins all major graphene and 2-D material stakeholders – researchers, government agencies, producer and user companies. Members can expect to the GSA to:

  • Be engaged in supporting standards activities and fostering education and information exchange in an open-innovation forum (e.g., the GSA FORUM).
  • Develop common and accepted nomenclature, definitions, standard metrology and testing methods, along with health, safety, and environmental standards by working collaboratively with international, national and industry-based organizations.
  • Facilitate and promote developmental efforts and highlight successful commercialization activities through networking and partnerships.
  • Monitor progress and develop action plans through regular web conferences and meetings.
  • Communicate the benefits and progress of the industry as a whole to public and private thought leaders and influencers including, where appropriate, governmental agencies and regulatory bodies.

The GSA was founded to accomplish a number of specific goals that we believe are important to developing new materials with amazing properties such as graphene.
Graphene is one of the most promising materials we have encountered in our careers. We are enthusiastic about helping to promote the responsible development of graphene, as well as other 2-D materials. There is much work to be done to realize the full potential these 2-D materials in the months and years ahead. We are looking to our members to help carry out our mission.

Q: Your first event is coming up in October at the University of Pennsylvania. Do you plan to host events outside the US as well?

Yes, we do. We have begun discussions with lifetime member NPL about co-hosting an event in the U.K. next year. In terms of hosting events, we are fortunate to have GSA co-founder Vincent Caprio’s experience and skills at organizing and hosting nanotechnology events. He has been professionally directing technology events for a long time. We hope to be able to leverage Vince’s deep expertise as the GSA grows. If the funding is available and there is interest among members, we can envision hosting a couple of event each year, one in the U.S. and on overseas. There is nothing like bringing people together in a venue in a great location to present, discuss and network.

Q: What is your vision of the GSA at the end of the year? How about at the end of next year?

When we launched the GSA earlier this year, we envisioned recruiting a diverse group of stakeholders, having a website that included a Forum for collaboration and knowledge-sharing for members, hosting an event in the U.S., having monthly conference calls with members and building out a platform to help fulfill the mission of the GSA as described earlier. We are on track to accomplish all of these goals this year.

Looking ahead, we have a number of key initiatives we are exploring with various groups behind the scenes. These initiatives include leveraging the expertise of NPL and NIST in various ways to benefit members, partnering with various organizations tounderstand and explore the Environmental, Health and Safety-related issues associated with graphene and other 2-D materials, exploring creating “Centers of Excellence” for graphene and 2-D materials in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as providing assistance to members who are working to commercialize graphene and 2-D material-based innovations.

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Marko is a scientific researcher (PhD in Physics, University of Twente, NL), with experience in graphene and other nanomaterials. He is the owner of Graphene Tracker, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Physics in Belgrade, blogger and online content manager for Graphenea, co-founder of 2D Atomic Crystals (www.2d-atomicrystals.com), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Graphene Stakeholders Association.

Twitter: @graphenetracker