Pioneering graphene partnership sets the standard

The ongoing collaboration between the University of Manchester’s graphene researchers and the northern England-based outdoor sports brand inov-8 has been awarded as an ‘excellent’ example of innovation and wealth creation in the UK by Innovate UK.

The partnership, which has seen the launch and subsequent development of the high-performance graphene-enhanced footwear, is now in the spotlight for its success in leading basic research into a successful global hit product.

Officially launched in 2018, the partners announced that they had been able to develop a graphene-reinforced rubber through a research project that started behind the scenes in 2016.

The developed G-GRIP rubber outsoles for running, hiking and fitness shoes, which in test held 1,000 miles, are scientifically proven to be 50% more durable and deliver the world’s toughest grip.

Subsequently, the graphene was also infused into the midsole foam to provide superior and long-lasting energy returns that supercharge the feet. The G-FLY foam midsole was launched in 2021.

Aravind Vijayaraghavan, professor of nanomaterials at the University of Manchester, said: “This partnership is an excellent example of how a university research team and an SME can work closely together to take cutting-edge technology from laboratory to market at a rapid pace. It demonstrates the significant benefits. , which graphene can bring to everyday products and affect our daily lives. “

Now Innovate UK has honored the recently concluded Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the two organizations with the highest possible rating “Outstanding”. The project has set the bar high, which has not only resulted in a world-leading product range, but also a highly effective partnership that strengthens the university’s commercial reputation – and another northern brand.

inov-8 founder Wayne Edy said: “This powerhouse forged in the north of England has taken the world of sports footwear by storm. We combine science and innovation with entrepreneurial speed and achieve incredible things.”

Graphene is the acclaimed atomically thin material, first isolated from graphite by Manchester researchers, which led to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. With only one atomic thickness, it is light and yet incredibly strong, which means it has many unique properties. inov-8 was the first brand in the world to use the material in sports footwear, and both G-GRIP and G-FLY are patent-pending technologies.

That footwear has since won several awards. The TRAILFLY G 270 and TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX were both named ‘Trail Running Shoe of the Year’ at the Runner’s World UK Gear Awards for 2020 and 2021. Grafen-reinforced shoes have also been worn by athletes to set records, especially over ultramarathon distances. . Damian Hall carried them to set a new fastest time for the 185-mile Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Trail of 39 hours and 18 minutes, just as Jasmin Paris made it famous to win the 268-mile Spine Race and set a new record time that still standing.

The ongoing research and innovation has now also meant that the KTP employee, Dr. Nadiim Domun, has been hired by inov-8 as a senior materials engineer to retain his expertise and continue the development of graphene technology through close collaboration with the University of Manchester.

The graph has the potential to change lives in so many ways. Athletic equipment is just one current success story for the versatile material. Water filtration, aviation and consumer electronics are among the many applications that are exciting to scientists, product developers and the general public worldwide.

In 2021, Manchester was placed at the top of the table for the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and became the preferred partner for business innovation.

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