Tunghsu Optoelectronic, one of China's pioneers in the graphene industry, signed a membership agreement in Beijing on Thursday with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester.
The Beijing-headquartered company has thus become GEIC's first partner in China - and only the fourth worldwide - to gain tier-one membership, according to the institute, which is based in the United Kingdom. GEIC has announced that it plans to limit its tier-one membership to 12.
The collaboration has set a shining example for Sino-UK exchanges between industry and academia, said Feng Weidong, vice-president of Tunghsu Optoelectronic.
Wang Lipeng, chairman of the company, said the graphene industry is still in its infancy. The partnership between the world's top research institution focused on graphene engineering and the Chinese leader in the sector will advance the industrialization of related technologies.
GEIC, which officially opened in December 2018, focuses on multifaceted industry-led applications to complement the UK National Graphene Institute's international research and expand the commercial impact of the new material.
Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010 "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene", enabling the university to become a pinnacle of world research into the frontier material.
Granted the GEIC's top-level membership, Tunghsu Optoelectronic can make full use of the state-of-the-art facilities at the engineering innovation center for its own research and development.
In addition, the company said it has a seat on the GEIC Technology Advisory Board. The status enables the company to be briefed on the latest research from the innovation center, have opportunities to invest in its research projects and vote on GEIC's future developments.
The company's graphene business development plan and technological innovation revolve around graphene's industrial applications, which dovetail with GEIC's goal of accelerating the industrialization of graphene technologies and its needs for proximity to the market, James Baker, CEO of [email protected], which includes GEIC and NGI, said at the signing ceremony.
By January, Tunghsu Optoelectronic had filed more than 190 patent applications related to graphene, including 13 international filings via the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Nearly 60 of the applications have been granted, according to the company.
The company said that graphene materials production, new energy materials, inks and coatings will be the focus of the cooperation between the two parties.
Exploration in the frontier fields and incubation of new products with technological prospects and market potential are also listed on their agenda.
Data from the Jiangnan Graphene Research Institute showed that by the end of 2017, approximately 61 percent of all graphene-related patent filings worldwide were from China, enabling the country to become the largest filer in the field, followed by the United States and South Korea.
Yet most of the Chinese filings were targeted at the domestic market, according to a report on the industry released by the China Economic Information Service. Despite the growth in overseas patent applications by Chinese filers in recent years, the majority of them have chosen the United States as their destination.
Industrial experts suggested Chinese graphene businesses expand their patent portfolio and formulate an integral IP development plan with diverse overseas destinations, in a bid to gain a strong foothold in international competition.