Geelong graphene manufacturer picked for global start-up program

Tuesday, 05 June, 2018

Geelong graphene manufacturer picked for global start-up program

Imagine Intelligent Materials (Imagine IM), an Australian graphene manufacturer and creator of smart materials, has been invited to participate in a global incubator project as part of the Plug and Play start-up incubator program.

Imagine IM was founded in 2014 with the aim of using graphene to deliver infinitely scalable sensors that will enable every part of the built environment to communicate. It has developed a vertically integrated business with hardware that enables materials to be interrogated and data to be moved into the cloud. Its dashboards enable relevant data to be presented to the user in a variety of ways depending on the chosen application.

The company pioneered the development of conductive coatings using graphene and was the first to make leak-detection geotextiles using graphene. Its smart-sensing geofabric product is already in the market, produced at its Geelong industrial facility — the first commercial graphene manufacturing plant in Australia and the recipient of Engineers Australia’s Innovation, Research and Development Award in 2016.

Initially the company’s geofabric is being used to ensure that leaks can be identified and fixed in tailing dams, but the strategic goal is on delivering improved safety and deploying the technology in numerous applications. Imagine IM has also developed a prototype smart road, installed at its Geelong factory, which senses traffic movements and will be able to solve traffic management challenges.

The Plug and Play program will see Imagine IM take part in STARTUP AUTOBAHN in Stuttgart, Germany, which unites global young tech companies with the expertise of Silicon Valley and the best of German engineering. The event puts start-ups in contact with established businesses in their sector, with the aim of developing prototypes and closing strategic investment opportunities with these companies. Imagine IM was selected from a field of more than 5500 start-ups.

“Our inclusion in this program should be seen as a complete endorsement of Australia’s innovation in the world of graphene,” said Imagine IM CEO Chris Gilbey. “We are in this position because of the brilliant scientific research taking place in Australia and our insights into how to commercialise graphene at scale.”

Imagine IM’s aim is to be a part of the supply chains of a number of market verticals including the smart automotive supply chain, creating smart, sensing surfaces for the interior of vehicles. As part of the company’s participation in STARTUP AUTOBAHN it has been given the challenge of developing a new sensing textile prototype for automotive manufacturer Daimler.

“The move to driverless cars is causing the pace of new technologies to accelerate, and innovations in textiles in automotive will soon migrate into other areas such as clothing,” said Gilbey. “Imagine IM intends to be at the forefront of smart surface innovation.”

Video: Chris Gilbey’s presentation at Plug and Play in Silicon Valley on 8 May.

The news coincides with the opening of Imagine IM’s European headquarters in Finland, as well as the appointment of Jaakko Kaidesoja as Chief Revenue Officer for Europe. Kaidesoja was a senior executive in Nokia for 20 years, and has held senior executive roles in Microsoft and the Post Group in Finland.

“I am delighted that Jaakko has joined the Imagine team,” Gilbey said. “He has the kind of unique combination of financial and leadership skills that a company such as Imagine IM needs right now.”

Imagine selected Finland for its European base for a number of reasons, including the availability of talent and Imagine IM’s success in working with former Nokia employees in the formative stages of the business.

“Also, Finnish universities have a reputation for turning out the best digital signal processing engineers anywhere in the world,” Gilbey said. “I have a belief that if you want to build a business based on excellence, you are better off starting with excellence.”

Image credit: ©ürgen Fälchle

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