Jose Antonio Garrido 0:00
Hi, good morning. My name is Jose Garrido and it's a pleasure to be here and leading this panel on Catalan project on graphene, called GraphCAT. Let me first introduce my colleagues in this panel and then explain a little bit about the format of the panel. So first, Anibal Pacheco-Sanchez from Autonomous University of Barcelona, Pedro Gomez-Romero from the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Nina Carretero, from IREC. And Josep Ll. Sanfeliu is a VC managing partner at the Asabys.
Jose Antonio Garrido 0:38
So the idea of this, of this, of this panel today is like, we're going to introduce you to one project that has been launched a couple of years ago here in Catalonia exploring the use of one of the advanced materials which is graphene. And we are going to divide the panel into two sessions. We will have 30 minutes discussing and presenting some of the main ideas of this project's main outcomes and then we will go into a second session where there will be some interaction roundtable where I will ask some questions. So, then we are also going to welcome questions from the audience. So, there will be a Q&A at the end of a couple of minutes, five minutes in case you have questions. Yeah. So, let me first introduce our GraphCAT. GraphCAT is what we call the graphene community of Catalonia. The idea with this community is that we would like to put Catalonia and boost the use of graphene in research and innovation. So, there are four major pillars that we are pursuing in order to ensure that we can tackle this challenge. On the one hand, we want to ensure that we can bring to Catalonia a very strong international community with experts in graphene. The second big pillar is with these communities. We need to develop vehicles and instruments in order to support industry. The technology transferred to industry, part of that one of the vehicles that we thought that is important is the creation of spin offs. And finally, a major challenge is to be able to attract and retain talent without talent is going to be impossible to advance.
Jose Antonio Garrido 2:36
All these started years ago, and the origin has been actually a big effort from the European Commission when they decided in 2013. To launch the graphene flagship, the Graphene Flagship is one of the largest research efforts of the European Commission that they initially thought to devote about 1 billion euros in order to enlarge and bring graphene from the lab and into industry. Based on this effort, they launched a 10 years program that has different funding phases. We are now in what is called the funding phase. Core three is called where over the last three years, we are going to dedicate about 150 million euros to this program. These programs and the idea of the commission was based on the unique properties of graphene, these unique properties of graphene made them like a very versatile material that could have impact on many different industries. So picking up on this effort from the European Commission, there were several groups here in Barcelona, who were very quickly leading these efforts at the national or international level. And also as very early on, the Catalan government decided to launch GraphCAT So GraphCAT, as I said, is a program which is financed by the Catalan government and using the European funds, federal funds. We have 10 partners, these partners are full members of this program and involved mostly research institutions and research organizations. But we also have industries. Yeah. Based on them based on the expertise that was gathered around the groups here in Catalonia, where we have expertise in nanotechnology, advanced manufacture, photonics, biomedical devices.
Jose Antonio Garrido 4:52
We decided to group the program into four major pillars. One pillar is biomedical sensors, another pillar which is silicon Si-CMOS integration, a pillar material, some membranes, and a pillar on energy. Each of these pillars have different projects. I'm going to describe some of them because we have here some of the researchers who are leading this project. So let me quickly explain very general projects that are here. For instance, we have projects on biomedical devices, there are three major programs or projects in biomedical devices, all of them exploring the use of graphene materials to interface with their neural system where the central and peripheral nervous system projects exploring monitoring brain activity projects, developing artificial retinas for patients who have lost vision and using the properties of graphene to interface with with neurons. The other block of projects is on silicon Si-CMOS integration. Here, we have projects that one of them will be explained by Anibal Pacheco on developing like a modeling toolkit in order to be able to model the electronic properties of these electronic devices using graphene. But other projects are also exploring the opto-electronic properties of graphene, in order to develop particular sensors, image sensors. There is also another program, another project on membranes and materials. The interest here was early on, can we go towards mass production of graphene, and that's something that Pedro Gomez is going to explain to us, but also a very interesting project of can we use the properties of graphene in order to develop membranes that can be used for water treatment. And finally, the fourth block of this project is around energy harvesting and energy storage, a very important application of graphene. One of the projects was mostly focused on storage, can we use graphene to develop a new generation and supercaps and batteries. And another very interesting use of graphene is in combining foldable tags and electrochemical methods in order to ensure that we can have a CO2 reduction. And this is a project that Nina Carretero is going to explain in a minute.
Jose Antonio Garrido 7:36
So if you allow me a couple of minutes just to discuss the big numbers over the last three years the project has been running. We have 10 innovation projects. There have been launches of two very successful spin offs. I think you have listened to one of our speakers in the previous session. Carolina Aguilar, who is the CEO of one of them in brand new electronics, and another spin off, which is another spin off as well. We’ve launched collaborations with industry, we have had important impact in publications and we have managed also to connect and to attract talent to hire researchers, engineers in this. So this project has been funded with about 4 million. So in the next few minutes, what I'm going to do is we're going to discuss a little bit in more detail five minutes more or less for each of us explaining one of these projects and we will go then later on into a roundtable. Yeah, so I will start with one of the projects because apart from me one of the coordinators of the project, I'm also a researcher. And I want to present one project which is called gECoG. It's a project where the collaboration is between the Catalan Institute for Nanoscience and Technology and inBrain electronics which is a spin off which I am also a co-founder of.
Jose Antonio Garrido 9:17
So, the idea of this project is to help the company in the initial phases of scaling up what we have demonstrated as a device that can monitor brain activity has been demonstrated at the moment on small animals. And in this project, what we wanted to do is like okay, we need to know that these novel devices and these novel materials need to go finally to be proven in the clinic, but we need to scale up. We are not going to be able to jump directly from small animal studies into humans. So there's an intermediate phase that we need to go to large animals. So the project has been basically demonstrating that these devices can be fabricated on a large enough area sufficiently to be used by humans, that they are safe. , and that they perform as they should be. So we think with this project, what we have demonstrated is like you can prepare the device for being used in humans and we have not done tests in large animals with the final device being used for humans. So I think that this is a project that has been quite successful in the sense that one of the largest challenges that we have had in novel materials when we think of medical devices is in the final translation. So we can do research, but the clinic is very far away. So this project has helped us to close the gap. And now in fact, the company InBrain electronics is preparing a first in-human trial with these devices. So with this, I just want to finish and pass the word to Anibal Pacheco, who is going to help us to discuss his project in GraphCAT.
Anibal Pacheco-Sanchez 11:16
Thank you, Jose. Well, since the beginning of the research on graphene or 2D materials, several groups have fabricated devices such as transistors, for example. They have discovered that these graphene transistors are highly attractive for RF applications or sensors, for example. So they build the device, they test the device and they obtain this. But now what? Our intention is to help to bring these devices into integration of an integrated circuit . For this, we realize, not only us but several groups, that graphene by itself is not enough. So we should integrate the graphene into a platform, which is already standardized using silicon Si-CMOS devices. So you build the Si-CMOS platform and over it, you can build the graphene transistor. Now, that's the picture I want you to have in your mind, but we need to understand all the functionalities inside these devices. We have models and we understand more or less, because we have been researching for 70 years more or less on silicon Si-CMOS, so, that part is covered somehow, but we still need to understand the properties of the graphene transistors that are going to be over the silicon Si-CMOS platform. With these models, we can provide a recipe to other engineers or researchers that build integrated circuits. So, in order to obtain that recipe, we should understand all the physics mechanisms inside the graphene devices. Now, once we understand it, we should translate it into an engineering language. So we can have an input for an integrated circuit. In this way, we translate the physics into models, which are implemented in a language that the integrated circuit design can actually read and use to build the devices. For this purpose, we have developed several models within our group which cover things like just the DC analysis, the high frequency analysis, noise analysis, and self-killing analysis. So there are a cluster of models, all integrated into a compact model. This compact model is then provided either to integrated circuit designers or also to fabrication groups so they can provide this recipe to their customers. This is the work for the customers that want to build electronics with graphene. That's the goal, the main goal of our project, we provide a recipe to build integrated circuits. Thank you, Jose!
Jose Antonio Garrido 14:30
Thank you very much, Anibal. Thanks for the discussion I mean the presentation and then we will have a couple of questions regarding the collaborators you're working with. So the next project they say is for Nina, which is within the cluster of energy.
Nina Carretero 14:46
Yeah, thank you so much, Antonio. So I'm going to present INTEGRO, which is the project I'm working on. I'm a researcher. The main objective of this project is to combine photovoltaics with electrochemical techniques to have a total device working with sun to reduce the CO2 to valuable products. So, as you know, CO2 production is the main cause of climate change. So, in the future we need not only to reduce this emission, but also in parallel we have to reuse the CO2 emitted to produce things. So, not only storage, but reutilization, which in this case is what we propose. So, we will take it, we will electro-reduce it to obtain in this case we propose thin gas which is a mixture between carbon monoxide and hydrogen and is a mixture which can be used for products, for instance, synthetic natural gas. So more in detail, what we propose in here is just to collaborate with ICFO, the Photonic Institute, which is our partner in this project. They are working on photovoltaic, which is based on kesterites and therefore non dependent or rare material, so they are Earth abundant, and we will combine it with our electrochemical cells. So, in this case, graphene it's a very important material. We are using it in the cathode as an electrocatalyst. So, instead of putting some energy like electricity coming from the solar panel, we need some catalyst to reduce the CO2 into products. Usually for this kind of reactions, metals are used like silver, in this case for thin gas production is the best one. But what we are doing here is just to try to don't use silver anymore and to use graphene. Graphene itself, it's not catalytic, but we can easily modify its structure by doping. So, in this project in particular, we are doping it with sulfur and with nitrogen, to obtain catalytic sites and we are doing this reaction with non use of materials, metals sorry, any metals. So, this is what we are going on. Now we are in the early stage of this research, but it seems that we are having very good results from my view at least.Thanks!
Jose Antonio Garrido 17:36
Thank you very much Nina. And the final block is going to be presented by Pedro Gomez. It's about always within the cluster membrane some materials and he will be presenting the project PROGRAMASS.
Pedro Gomez-Romero 17:54
Okay, thank you. Thank you, Jose, thank you, everybody, for being here for your interest. I would say last but not least, well, of course, actually is first preparing graphene. But as soon as you are a little bit familiar with a world of graphene, you could ask yourselves a very good question. Why should we tackle the synthesis of graphene when there are so many laboratories all over the world, including China that have already done it? Yeah, good question. Since you were going to ask it later on. I'm asking it myself. The answer is because I want to know what I have. Castro Neto I remember listening to him and telling the world that 90% of what was sold to us as graphene was not graphene, but was smashed graphite, if you want. I developed a word for that., in between graphite and graphene, let's say if you define graphene as a single layer material, and graphite does a multi layer material, anything in between could be called graphe-teen, a little bit in between right! And that is what we are preparing, not single layer graphene, this project is not on CVD graphene single layer, but on delaminating graphite. But we want to know what we have and we want to tailormake the material for different applications. That is one reason why we were convinced that it was worthwhile integrating one such initial project in the value chain of graphene. That is the reason. Another reason is the number one zero waste production. We are in Europe, we are concerned with the environment and we do things safely by designing and we should do it because that is part of our values with respect to other countries, say China. So, a zero waste production from the beginning was part of what we wanted to do. Let me tell you that in addition to this scaling up of graphene, which is based on a tribal logical procedure, many people are using ball mills for ball mills for kitchen hardware for making graphene. You can see it on YouTube. In addition to this, which is very good for scaling up and that's why it's our primary project. We are also interested as a research group in other techniques such as electrochemical exfoliation of graphite, and we made here again a technology which is a very well known electrochemical exfoliation Oh come on, that is old! Yes! But there is always room for improvement and we patented a procedure which is very ingenious, very simple, and consists on developing a how to say horizontal cell gravity, when you exfoliate, graphite, gravity can be a problem, if you have vertical electrodes or it can be ally if you have horizontal geometry. So we did that. And we are also interested in working on obtaining graphene like materials from wastes. In particular, agro waste. It's not like what we'll see concerning plastic waste, but it's a different type, but in any case, another European values this circular economy. Well, that is essentially what I wanted to say. I would like to insist on the fact that introducing this initial value chain project gives added value to let's say, the application of these materials in applications such as supercapacitors or hybrid energy storage materials, which we are also working on, right. Knowing what kind of graphene or graphetine you have on hand gives you a control of the properties and tailor these materials and that is very, very important. So, that's essentially what I would like to tell you, thank you!
Jose Antonio Garrido 23:00
Thank you very much. Thank you very much Pedro. So, with this, we conclude this first part of the session in which the goal was to share with you where GraphCAT and what GraphCAT is and where we are now. And I would like to start the second part of the session by introducing or bringing up a different perspective. So the perspective not from the research institution, not from the scientists, not even from the entrepreneurs but the perspective from the investor. So, in order to ensure that some of these initial ideas can move forward, there is a phase in which public funding is not sufficient, and we need to go to discuss with investors and in this case, it's a pleasure to introduce Josep Ll. Sanfeliu, who has long term experience investing here in Barcelona. Currently, he is managing partner and co-founder of Asabys, and Joe has been, I think, that we here in Barcelona probably is one of the first persons who has invested in graphene and novel material and novel technologies. And I would like to ask Joe to discuss and explain a little bit your perspective. How did you come to invest in this material, a material which is so novel, which has difficulties also to be translated in the field where you are interested, which is medtech?
Josep Ll. Sanfeliu 24:37
Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Jose, thank you for sharing with me this this moment, which I feel really honored because sharing the stage with sciences in graphene fields makes me feel like a two dimensional single layer type of person because I'm an investor, so on Yeah, I'm just I'm Josep Sanfeliu of Asabys Partners, which is a venture capital firm based in healthcare innovation. We do mostly healthcare innovation in the area of biotech, digital health and medical devices. When I was first exposed to graphene, obviously, because I've been in the field of financing research for many years in healthcare, we heard about graphene back in 2014, and 2010. Everyone was like looking at that space, and from my perspective, from an investment standpoint, I don't know how many people in the audience have relationships with VCs, venture capitalists, investors, institutional investors, but it's very important for you guys to understand that. The role of venture capital, which is called institutional investor, is different from the role of a bank is different from the role of the public investors in basic research, which is something that governments need to really think through carefully. Because we need to deploy more resources there, it's very relevant that we activate resources into basic research. Otherwise, there's nothing translational, that will come out from this basic research if we don't have the raw materials, the raw talent that allows us then to apply this into applicable translational healthcare, energy, whatever other industries in which graphene can be applied, because investors and when I say investors, I'm talking about venture capital investors, who are financing innovation that will end up in the market and will end in up patients and will end in up consumers and will end up in applications, probably will make a better world for all of us, you need to really see that these investors are understanding the opportunities. But they're also understanding a little bit of science, because investors like venture capitalists, in the case of a service, we just manage money and we connect the dots. It's not a lot more than that. The worst part of the hardest part typically is raising a fund for us. So we go and raise money, our service today is managing $120 million and 150 million euros. In one fund, we have invested in InBrain from day one, which was an amazing proposition for us using a new material that everybody was talking about, but our perspective and the perspective of any investor has to be a perspective that understands where the value is coming in the future, not where it's coming from, because where it's coming from is something that it's valued by the scientific community. It's a given. I mean, you need to have that starting point in which GraphCAT, the Flagship program is helping clearly and many other research centers, like IREC are working and giving a lot of visibility to that amazing talent and intellectual property and the spin off potential of these research institutes. But then you need to think specifically, what are you going to apply this to? Because otherwise, money comes after talent, it's not the way or the other way around. And money after talent then looks over specific applications, which in the mind of scientists might be too strict, might be too narrow, might be too focused on specific market obligations. But this is the only way I can do my work, which is, I understand more or less what it looks like a graphene implanted cortical implant in the brain, more or less I can understand. But then I have to go and talk to my financial investors. So in a way, if you allow me the parallelism, we are just, you know, a very light material, we have to be very flexible, and very resistant, because typically all the bets we do in science typically fail. So we do have to understand what our potential is. And we have to engage with our research centers, to make all the opportunities a reality based on spinoff funding. And I think all investors in the room or early investors in Europe, really need to have these strong connections and, and go to the bench and talk to the scientist, it’s the only way. Financing a company that's coming out from a research center means a lot of different sensitivities to sit on the same table. We have public funding, you need to understand where that's coming from. We have entrepreneurs and the scientists that are leading the companies and this you need to be super respectful and absolutely empower them to keep developing science, which is what their motivation is and where they're good at. And then you have to bring the most important thing which without execution and without implementation, any idea, even if it's a Nobel Prize idea, or if it's a patented idea, if there's not a development, nobody will pay for it, nobody will invest. But I think we already have several good examples in the ecosystem around us. And I would just stress and invite everybody else, to reach out to investors, to reach out to business schools, to reach out to any business neighbor, you might have to start talking, how can we put this together in little packets that will be attractive for investors? So this will clearly be my first approach to recession?
Jose Antonio Garrido 30:35
Thanks, Joe. I have another question regarding the history of investing in graphene? So we were talking a little bit. I mean, like when, for instance, the Flagship was launched in 2013. There were already promises about graphene. So surely, there were already investors, maybe different types of investors looking at this material. Now we are seven years after or eight years after, and there are other types of investors. So you have been looking at how graphene has attracted investment. Can you share with the audience with us a little bit, your learning and you know who invested 10 years ago? Who is investing now? And as a way to understand how mature is the market or will be the market for graphene?
Josep Ll. Sanfeliu 31:25
Yeah, looking at the data I've been tracking lately, precisely for the session, you could see that back in 2010, so 10 years ago, we had all this hype obviously, because of the novel prize, and everybody was talking about it. There were Congress's, TED talks, YouTube's, so it was relatively connecting to the sort of investor, which probably, if you allow me at the time, we're more speculative, more brave, sometimes the more speculative investors that go after the big waves of innovation, the hype, the early adopters are not typically institutional investors. These investors that I've met, in the past, doing graphene deals, were more on the side of, you know, huge net worth individuals that would bet their own money into the industry. You could even have family offices that had, you know, alternative other risky strategies that would just bet there because it wasn't their own resources. It could even be way not a corporation, right? One of the end users of this like Samsung, or one of these huge giants that would bet on that graphene. So that was the first type of investors. I wouldn't say speculative, but I would say less applied investment type. Today, what do we see? In the last five years, according to a data check this morning on global data, you really see an increase of three or four times. For us, it was like 3.7 times the money invested over the five years, than the last five years in the venture capital community, into graphene based companies that are related, not only health, and then you also see what is really striking is also the valuation. So it's a combination of liquidity. So now you have investors in the venture capital community, and again, I will just refresh the venture capital, it's just an intermediary, we would not be here if it wouldn't be because of you. So we are just there paying attention to what's going on. And these people like me, obviously, we invest personally, because as a managing partner in the industry, we need to put our own homes into the funds. But my clients and investors really asked me for returns just because they represent financial interests. So when we look at an opportunity, we have to look at it now as an applied vertical in which we can understand the market application of that investment. And that is starting to be part of the ecosystem. So now you have venture capitalists who are institutional investors, who are investing in different verticals. But we think at this moment, when you have these VC activity coming up, valuations going up, more players in venture capital coming in, you see two trends. For instance, in healthcare, which is the area I work with, Enbrem is a good example of a spinoff that's in the frontier of deep tech. So we have technology investors and deep technology investors, who probably didn't have any experience in healthcare, but do have an experience in advanced materials and new technologies and disruptive innovation. But at the same time, you have the healthcare investors like us, who are very narrowly focused on bringing that into a healthcare application. So now you have a little bit of good news for the audience.There's venture capital financing out there, depending what you're doing. Probably you have to segment who you're talking to based on the venture capital profile and the experience before, there's not many, I have to say lots of track record there. But also at the same time, you will probably have to meet investors that have different profiles, different one more technology, you can have someone from renewables that would like to talk to you as an investor in that segment. So it's a combination now of different profiles of investors.
Jose Antonio Garrido 35:27
Thank you. Thank you. I mean, you talk about investors, globally, I guess. Pedro was also mentioning competition, global competition, right. So Pedro, I mean, you are also an entrepreneur. And competition, being local, or being international is going to be a challenge. So how do you see in your own field the competition that could come from China? So what type of instruments would we need as an ecosystem to offer to an entrepreneur? Like, some of the spin offs that you have, what are those instruments that we should offer in order to make you competitive?What are you missing that you know that GraphCAT or all the programs should offer?
Pedro Gomez-Romero 36:46
What a big question. But, this is very interesting. I have always thought that well, I'm a scientist and an entrepreneur, but that is because I really want to see my thoughts, my research going all the way to the market, really. But basically, I'm a scientist and therefore, I can think critically. Graphene and China is a very good example, because I can not be first in selling graphene right. They will be faster, no matter what they have been faster and will be faster in so many different businesses concerning materials. So, what can we do instead? Well, obviously, we have to bet on a different quality, better quality or specificities, product oriented materials, tailormade materials, which I mentioned, and integrate them into the value chain, not just, I always say that my idea of business model for graphene production is not the typical, you know, the typical American movie where a little girl sits down in front of her house and makes a sign, lemonade, five cents a glass. Well, that is the way to sell graphene, right? You need to integrate your production into a more complex let's say value chain in which you can produce tailormade materials for specific applications. And that is what we are trying. But I would like to make emphasis also, on the second part of the question, which is, what are we missing? Well, to me it is very clear, as a professional scientist turned into an entrepreneur, and social communication of science is so important. I still am a scientist, and what am I missing? Partnership. I need partnership. Let me explain to you. From the very first moment in which I thought it would be so nice to have this idea, I just thought about implementing it in the lab and then selling energy storage, supercapacitors, hybrid supercapacitors, hybrid Energy Storage. Oh, it's so great. Something in between batteries and supercapacitors fast charging. Okay. What I'm always missing is not one, maybe two intermediate stages in between what I've been thinking and implementing in the lab and the final user. In Catalonia in Spain, I would say in the whole of Europe, there are several stages which are missing, there is a big gap, which I find needs to be covered with good strategic thinking and, and preparation. In the case of energy storage it is very clear. Many around here, imagine smart cities, will be end users of energy storage. And you could come to me and say, that great idea you have, okay, we can put it to work there. Give me a battery, and I will try it. Yeah, but I need the industrial partner that fabricates electrodes and batteries. You know, that is what I mean. It’s a very good example. Thank you for the question. And we need partnership. And we need a whole value scale. Okay, so it's an invitation for thinking strategically. Thank you.
Jose Antonio Garrido 41:05
Thanks, Pedro. I mean, you mentioned partnership, I think that that's very important. So if we think of what Anibal is working on, I mean, trying to explore the use in electronics, micro electronics, the silicon industry is huge. Like establishing partners or partnerships with the silicon industry is probably very, very difficult. However, you work more on the modeling side. So can you describe what your partners know how you are reaching out to like a small, maybe a small industry and some of the or the large industry interested in your models?
Anibal Pacheco-Sanchez 41:47
Sure. Sure. Jose. Thank you. Yeah, partnership is really important. And basically, our project has a partnership with Keysight. Keysight is one of the most important companies in microelectronics, they build measurement equipment, sophisticated measurement equipment, and they also provide software for integrated circuit design. So basically, the last call, could we provide our model to Keysight. So it can be incorporated into the commercial software that they provide worldwide. That would be one of the main goals. At the same time. Keysight can take advantage of the model by implementing maybe not all the modules into the measurement equipment, but maybe one or two, and with the help of our model, at the moment you are measuring the device or integrated circuit to kind of gain information about the physics. So for example, if you want to know the mobility, the electromobility of the inside of the graphene, you can obtain that immediately if you associate the measurement with our model. On the other side, we have another partnership here in Spain, it's a company that was established and produces not only graphene, but basically graphene transistors, they are interested in our model in a way that we can provide a description of their devices, and their customers can take advantage of it. So their customers directly can not only buy the transistor, but also the recipe to make something else circuits with this transistor. So at the moment, those are the partners we have in our project. But it is really important, as Pedro just said that to have partnerships between different groups, not only the modeling group, not only the technology group, also with the integrated circuit design group, we need constant feedback in order to have success in this graphene technology or in any other in any emergent technology. So that's it.
Jose Antonio Garrido 44:15
Thanks Anibal for the explanation of these two, two different types of partnerships: the small industry or large industry that you're discussing. This brings me to Nina in the sense that the work you're I mean you're doing now has also like a very important commercial impact in energy but also an environment with CO2 reduction. You seem like a green technology. And you're exploring the use of novel materials. I was very interested in your project because it's not only about graphene, your work combines many different materials which is even more complex because it's not just one novel material, it’s many novel materials. So, what is your perspective of how is the industry going to translate eventually these type of very novel devices, where there is not just one innovation in one type of material, but you integrate complex materials and how do you see the way forward, and where would you like the industry to be involved in the in your projects?
Nina Carretero 45:29
Yes. So, thank you for the question. So, we know that many companies are interested in this technology, we have been in contact with many of them, maybe not for this particular project., but before, we have been working on this topic for more than 10 years now, in my recent research center, and of course, we need to change things and this is the way. CO2 reduction, all these technologies, also water splitting for hydrogen production, for mobility, we have been working on this. The thing is that many of the catalysts and metals or not earth abundant materials are located in places where Europe is not as flexible as we want. So now in this case, I'm always working in electrochemical technologies, not only for CO2 reduction, but also battery super gas energy storage in general. And we have seen that to improve these technologies always have to be improvement of the material. So every day, you can see how new materials are created to improve the properties and the result that you obtain. And in this sense, I think that graphene has a very good role because of its properties, its large surface area, its conductive properties, everything. So from my experience, all the electrochemical tests that you do, the materials when you include graphene on them, they improve. But of course it has challenging scaling up is a problem you have to put the right amount, you need time, you need developing and as Pedro said the problem is that usually when investor came or a company which was interested in our technology, the want a final device and want the final device in like six months. This is not possible in this time. I can give you some commercial catalyst or the one with metallics that are more expensive, but like so it's like two options. Now, you want the most expensive, but now or you want to invest in developing this technology, which is very promising, but I need more time. Usually the answer is fast. So I guess the term is that we need some partners involved so that they understand the technology and the possibilities and get really into the proceeding of improvement.
Josep Ll. Sanfeliu 48:09
I would like to add, since you mentioned the investors timelines is a very important point. Actually, that investment community is now reflecting very, very thoroughly and we are very active in those discussions and are starting to help globally. Because the reason some of these investors come to you, corporations have other drivers, but yes, for you to have in mind why sometimes investors feel guilty because of putting too much pressure in the short term. But the reason is that the whole industry in venture capital is structured in something which has been the standard for 40 years, no innovation there, zero, and we invest in innovation, and it is the 10 year fund. It's very important to bear that in mind. My investors just because it has been like that for the last 50 years since venture capital was invested to 60 years ago in Boston and in the US in California. That has been the timeframes. And now we are seeing disruptive innovation, because the depth of our research is so big and so thorough and so deep, that we need more time to develop these technologies. But the pressure for us is that our mandates, our contract with an investor who puts 10 million euros in our fund, is that I need to give the money back to my investors multiplied by three or four times in 10 years. And that is super rigid, especially when you get into spaces and areas that are still unknown because development of certain technologies takes longer. So now the whole community the same way some IP rights are starting to be reviewed in the context of the new scientific research. We at Asabys are very cautious and we are trying to help the investment community that those who do research on science investments, we need more flexibility on the timelines that are so fixed, old, structured, and standardized periods of times that's not aligned with the scientific revolution. We are everyday listening to entrepreneurs.
Jose Antonio Garrido 50:11
Thanks, Joe. And we have five minutes. I have more questions, but I also would like to be open to the audience. I don't know if there are questions from the audience? No. Okay. Awesome. Okay. I'm going to have just one question. No. Okay. They are telling me that it's not possible. Sorry. So then I'm going to have my question. Maybe we can discuss later on. And Joe to follow up on some of what Nina was mentioning. And Pedro partnership, it's important, but how important is it to be local versus global? Because we are becoming more global. Barcelona is a city now, where we have a lot of innovation research, but it is impossible to have all industries, all these partners that they are asking for. So how much do we need our local partners in order to do this first push that they need, versus global partners that will help to move forward to a different league? So are we able to be competitive without all these very strong local industries in different sectors like microelectronics, energy, materials production?
Josep Ll. Sanfeliu 51:29
That's a very good point. There's a mantra in the venture capital community, especially in early stage innovation, that normally, since the very early days in venture capital, that in early stage investment, the investor who's betting resources needs to be close to the company, not because there's a lack of trust or not, because you want to control its just because you want to help you put money and you help. So the ecosystem is getting configured in a way, which is like a systems biology double thing. So why? Because each hub needs to have a local investor, who then will talk to the local investor of another hub, and bring it over globally to co-invest in the local network. So each hub needs to have its own set of local partnerships, that then will act as the door to a global partner. Because local interaction, facetime, sitting together, I think it's more important than ever, and the investor community still works like that. And a good example is InBrain. We are a local investor, we have investor from the US, we have an investor from Germany, we are acting here just as a helper and coordinating staff, but the investor out there is as important or more than the investor locally, but the local investor has a role. A role in attracting co investors, a role in helping out and reaching out globally, partnerships investor. So I think that that is a good construct. And having a hub, in this case, graphene in Catalonia or another one in another region. It's very relevant to have the local partners very active, and these ones think global, but early stage investment needs close relationships.
Jose Antonio Garrido 53:23
Quickly, Pedro, so what about the industry because you do not only need an investor partner, you also need some industrial partners.
Pedro Gomez-Romero 53:31
Yeah. Intermediate partners. I wanted to make a very illustrative example of how disruptive knowledge can take place anywhere. Not with graphene, but you know, Professor Moheica, developed this seminal work leading to CRISPR in Alicante, Spain, Europe. But the Nobel Prize was awarded to two other ladies, very worthwhile, I mean, but probably because they have the machinery to go from the idea to the product. Professor Moheica in Alicante, Spain didn't have that. So, we are missing lots of intermediate steps, beginning with the knowledge area. And of course, also with local industry, which is missing. In the particular case of batteries. We are missing, battery companies, assembling is not enough. Developing is necessary.
Jose Antonio Garrido 54:41
Okay, thank you. So well, the last 20 seconds, I just want to thank you very much to Anibal, to Nina, to Pedro and to Joe. I think that it has been a very interesting discussion with you. I think that GraphCAT is one of these examples where there are spinoffs, where there is very good science, where we have investors who are close to us. This is happening here in Barcelona, and we hope that this keeps working very good for innovation. Thank you very much everyone!