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Will Graphene Policy open new doors for investment & innovation in Kerala?

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Kerala is aiming to usher in a new era of investment and sustainable industrial development by announcing a comprehensive Graphene Policy. Though experts are sceptical whether Kerala has the requisite allied infrastructure to support any major investment in Graphene-related research and manufacturing, they all sound unanimous that the Graphene Policy will come a long way in laying a strong foundation for various stakeholders to explore opportunities in graphene-based technologies.

Graphene, often dubbed as a “wonder material,” is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice. It possesses exceptional properties, including extraordinary electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and thermal conductivity. These attributes make graphene a game-changer in a multitude of industries, from electronics to energy storage.

The Graphene Policy is anticipated to drive investments in research and development, infrastructure, and manufacturing facilities focused on graphene-based technologies. The government’s move is backed by an understanding of the potential economic and technological dividends that can be reaped from this wonder material.

Dr Koshy P Vaidyan, Chief Executive Officer of Trivandrum Engineering Science and Technology (TrEST) Research Park, said the graphene policy has a wide reaching impact on the industrial development of the state. “There are immense applications of graphene in almost all sectors, including the energy sector, infrastructure, electronics, bio-medical, space research, development of sensors, composites, water filtering etc. This is a disruptive technology, which has the potential to replace the existing materials and technologies. The formulation of the policy and the steps that the Government of Kerala is taking in this, including the set up of the Graphene Innovation Centre, will definitely attract and bring more investors to the state,” he said.

Dr Ajayan K R, Professor of Nano Device Physics at College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram has equated the Graphene Policy with that of the IT Policy of E K Nayanar Government in 1990s that paved the way for Kerala to become one of the most sought after IT destinations in the country. “The state might be in the nascent stage of having the required infrastructure for development and manufacturing of Graphene-based technologies, but the policy announcement will definitely open a new door for the state and other stakeholders in fostering a vibrant research ecosystem,” Dr Ajayan said.

Industries Minister P Rajeev has said the government will soon announce the graphene policy after further fine-tuning it. He had said the policy would pave the way for establishment of dedicated research centers and innovation hubs which will collaborate with academia, research institutions, and private enterprises to develop cutting-edge graphene applications. The Kerala government will also take a call on offering incentives to businesses willing to invest in graphene-related ventures. The move will undoubtedly attract domestic and international companies to set up shop in Kerala. As graphene technology matures and becomes more accessible, its potential applications in industries such as electronics, energy, and healthcare are expected to generate substantial economic value.

Retired Cusat professor Dr M R Anantharaman, who is an expert in nano-magnetic materials and magnetic nano-composites, said the policy is a visionary step aimed at transforming Kerala into a global powerhouse in graphene research and manufacturing. “It’s a welcome decision. Whether the state has necessary infrastructure for supporting Graphene research and manufacturing is a secondary aspect. If the policy could foster innovation, incentivize investments and nurture a skilled workforce through research facilities, it is a move in the right direction,” he said.

Already, the India Innovation Centre for Graphene in Kerala implemented by the Digital University Kerala in partnership with Tata Steel and C-MET, Thrissur, is into large-scale innovation activity around graphene. It serves as a collaborative platform for research, development, and commercialisation of graphene-based technologies.

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