Graphene Composites USA receives $50K state grant for research into COVID-19-fighting ‘ink’

PROVIDENCE The R.I. Commerce Corp. awarded $50,000 on Monday to a tech firm that hopes to expand its research on a common flu-blocking application to the COVID-19 virus.

Graphene Composites USA Inc., which has offices at CIC Providence, is the U.S. affiliate of a U.K.-based tech firm that combines graphene and aerogels to form strong and light materials.

Its work locally, with Brown University, has involved developing a graphene ink that has been shown in some preliminary studies to kill the common flu virus, according to Christine Smith, director of innovation programs for R.I. Commerce.

The company wants to test its technology against the COVID-19 virus. If successful in eradicating the virus, the graphene ink could be applied to filters for building ventilation, or to personal protective equipment, according to Smith, as well as a report on the research in the Brown Daily Herald.

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The effort to expand the germ-fighting ink, now called GC-ink, from the seasonal flu to the new coronavirus requires use of the R.I. Department of Health labs for additional security, according to Stefan Pryor, Commerce secretary.

The R.I. Commerce board in a telephone meeting on Monday authorized $50,000 for an innovation grant to continue the work.

The company would be working with Rhode Island manufacturers to manufacture the product, if the work is successful, Smith said.

Sandy Chen, the CEO and cofounder, told R.I. Commerce officials the company chose to locate in the CIC Providence offices to collaborate with other local companies involved with medical technology and manufacturing. It’s working with a large filter manufacturer, he said, but did not identify the company.

“All to apply the GC Ink to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and to make buildings safer,” he said.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at