As a result of the recent press articles about the National Graphene Institute a variety of correspondents have been letting me have their opinion on the commercialisation of graphene. The general tenor of views has ranged from “Britain is useless at commercialising innovation so why bother spending any more money on trying?” to “What’s the point of putting bloody academics in charge of commercialisation when they don’t understand it?” and “I thought the NGI was supposed to be a research institute not a start up factory.” Others have variously blamed Gordon Brown, George Osborne and the European Union.
I was however, intrigued by an email I received from an entrepreneur based in the North West who contacted the NGI about collaborating on a patented solid state cooling system. Apparently it took just 16 minutes for someone at the NGI to evaluate the 56 word enquiry and fire back the response “Unfortunately, due to possible confidentiality issues with other projects, we would not be able collaborate with you on this occasion.”
As the rather unimpressed entrepreneur who is now looking at a collaboration with the rather more accomodating University of Cambridge Graphene Centre told me, does this mean that the standard response to an enquiry from any SME is “sod off we’re only interested in working with big names,” or does it mean “that’s a great idea, we’ll do it ourselves, now sod off?”
Either way I think he got the message.