Graphene Value Network & Cambridge


by Nicholas Coutts MA (Cambridge) and Justin Hayward MMath PhD MBA (Cambridge)

Everything we do – research, development, testing, manufacturing, investing, selling – is part of a value network. Understanding what the value network looks like and how it may be changing can be very beneficial in terms of helping to protect or increase the value received or offered as changes occur.


For example, Cambridge Investment Research (CIR) developed a value network map of the barriers to adoption and use of a new and potentially very enabling & high value functional material: graphene (see Figure). The map shows 17 stakeholder types from the areas of: industry, investor, government, standards bodies, academic institutions and the taxpayer (who ultimately funds public and some private research and development).

graphene-value-network (PDF) All rights reserved CIR Ltd

The map was developed during a one-day masterclass with participants from industry, professional services and academic backgrounds. The purpose of this value network analysis is to identify the barriers to the adoption and use of graphene by some of the different stakeholders in order to develop approaches to lowering or removing as many obstacles as possible. Lowering or removing barriers should speed the growth of applications for graphene. These can be reduced by the provision of services, and hence service design has an important role in speeding up the growth of application. The map also shows flows between stakeholders with an arrow to indicate the flow direction. The flows can be money, product, information, or services, or combinations of one or more of these.


Image Above Courtesy of FlexEnable Ltd, Cambridge, Co-Lead Sponsors of CGD15

Needs and expectations

The arrows can also be indicators of the needs and expectations of astakeholder. For example, one of the stakeholders – the materials supplier – expects the standards body to provide standardisation and certification. Without such information, which is a service required by the materials supplier of the standards body, the materials supplier’s ability to supply may be limited and hence the growth of applications for graphene could be stunted.On the CIR value network map of barriers to adoption and use of graphene, this is shown as a very high (VH) barrier to adoption based on the view of the experts in the group that contributed to the map’s development. Development Preparation of the map is straightforward. The needs and expectations of each identified stakeholder are discussed and agreed.

A description of the barrier and the direction of flow are noted. The impact of these needs and expectations in terms of barriers to adoption and use are then assessed on a simple scale from being a ‘very high’ barrier to very low’ barrier, and this is noted. The resulting updatable table is uploaded to a dynamic software suite on the Cloud. The software then generates the dynamic map with the data.

The Map: VNA Canvas

This powerful map (along with accompanying dynamic visualisation & analytics software) can be used to analyse and assess the role and importance of the stakeholders in terms of their connections to others.


These data then help the understanding of priorities for action to be taken that will lower or remove the main barriers. This understanding of priorities, underpinned by a rigorous analysis of the value network by expert participants in a group of organisations or a single company, can then be converted into a short summary of recommendations.

This can be for an executive, a management team, or the group of organisations.An increasing number of leaders are coming to understand the use and importance of value network dynamics, and some now consider it to be sufficiently important and take responsibility for maintaining an up-to date, dynamic value network map both for the present and for the future on a senior management level.

If you would like to join a Leader’s MasterClass – if  it falls to you in your organisation to drive forward strategy, uptake or monetisation of GRMs – then please do approach CIR for info or booking +44 1223 303500 (direct) for the MasterClass on 5 November 2015 in Cambridge as part of the Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015 festival of events 5-6 November 2015 including business conference, expo of tech, new lab tours and dinner.


Image Courtesy of Haydale plc Lead Sponsors of Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015.

We look forward to seeing you on 5-6 November for CGD15 at the masterclass and business conference.

Cambridge Graphene Tech Days 2015 Home | Bookings | Brochure | CIR Strategy blog



CIR (founded 2002) is a growing independent management consultancy based in Cambridge, England. We offer value network analysis, customer value proposition development, business intelligence, market entry strategy in various tech sectors such as printing, packaging, electronics, nanotech, instruments, energy, healthcare & ICT. CIR works with blue chip global corporate innovators, start-ups and investors corporate & financial.

Cambridge Investment Research Ltd