To develop, embed and exploit advanced 2D materials and processing capability to launch innovative new products within the athletes footwear and apparel sector.

Impact: Economic


In 2004, research conducted at the University of Manchester (UoM) demonstrated the existence of free-standing two-dimensional crystals, including graphene. Simple, cheap, and reliable approaches for isolation of these 2D materials, combined with the promise that the new class of 2D materials would offer a wealth of new physical phenomena for application across a range of industries, led to significant interest in the field.

Research following on from the University of Manchester’s isolation of graphene has led to an array of products incorporating graphene, which deliver a range of performance improvements, including composite strength and wear resistance. University of Manchester research, co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and EPSRC, demonstrated that graphene can be used to reinforce elastomer films. These outcomes drew the attention of inov-8 Ltd, based in Staveley, Kendal who, in 2017, engaged in an EPSRC-funded Impact Acceleration Account Proof-of-Concept project, which successfully transitioned into an Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with The University of Manchester, to explore the benefits of graphene composites for the outsoles and midsoles of sports footwear.

The graphene-enhanced composite developed from this KTP was shown to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing than their commercial state-of-the-art rubbers. It was commercialised as the G-Grip outsole as part of the G-series and other footwear products launched by inov-8 for challenging pursuits such as fell running, ultra-marathons, and high-intensity training. The first running shoes to feature G-grip were launched in June 2018, followed by hiking shoes in Dec 2018. By 2021, G-Grip shoes had sold in over 20 countries worldwide. For the Autumn/Winter 2018 season, graphene products accounted for 5% of the company’s footwear unit sales. By Spring/Summer 2019, this had risen to 25% of unit sales, and by 2020, to over 45%. Inov8 claim that “These trends continue into 2021 and we expect a strong growth in the sales of these graphene-enhanced shoes.” In 2021, inov-8 and the University launched the first graphene-enhanced foam in a shoe’s midsole. Tests on G-FLY foam have shown that it delivers a 25% greater energy return than industry standard EVA foams and is more resistant to compressive wear.
Impact date20172023
Category of impactEconomic
Impact levelBenefit

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Advanced materials
  • Henry Royce Institute