What is one million times thinner than a strand of hair and two hundred times stronger than steel? 

The answer is graphene, a two-dimensional nanomaterial. The wide ranging  properties of graphene, discovered in 2004, make it ideal for producing flexible electronics, increasing the lifespan of batteries, improving the performance and energy efficiency of water filtration systems, as well as smart packaging to prevent food spoilage.   

Evelyn Allen“This is the superpower of graphene,” says Evelyn Allen, chief executive officer of Evercloak, a cleantech startup that specializes in manufacturing ultra-thin graphene and other 2-D nanomaterial films for cleantech applications.

Recently selected as a finalist in the Women in Cleantech Challenge, Allen is one of six women across Canada who will compete for a $1-million prize in the national cleantech challenge. Funded by Natural Resources Canada and MaRS Discovery District, the challenge provides an opportunity for Canadian women entrepreneurs to develop world-class cleantech solutions and launch innovative cleantech startups.

“Congratulations to Evelyn Allen on this achievement that recognizes her innovative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. Her commitment to sustainability and entrepreneurship will support this high-profile industry and the women who will lead it,” says Charmaine Dean, vice-president, University Research at the University of Waterloo.  

Michael Pope, assistant professor, chemical engineering, and Evercloak co-founder, discovered the innovative technology with his team in 2015. Evercloak’s low-cost advanced manufacturing platform builds ultra-thin nanomaterial membranes, enabling disruptive clean technologies that will reduce cost, energy use, and associated greenhouse gas emissions throughout the oil and gas, nuclear, energy, mining and agri-food sectors.  

As a corporate research partnerships manager in the Office of Research, with an engineering background in the cleantech industry, Allen is passionate about environmental sustainability. She will lead commercialization of the manufacturing platform that produces large-area nanofilms made of graphene and other 2D wonder materials. Her application was supported by the Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) which helps researchers and partners further develop opportunities for commercialization. 

Before applying for the Women in Cleantech Challenge, Allen wanted to make a lasting difference in the cleantech industry and contribute to Waterloo’s innovative ecosystem. She says working at the University fueled her passion for technology driven solutions.

“In a partnership role, I see the impact of integrating technology driven solutions to solve industrial environmental challenges and can’t wait to make a difference with our technology,” she says.  

Allen’s advance to the next phase of the challenge will help her make an impact on cleantech. 

“In 15 years of working in this industry, I can’t name more than two female entrepreneurs leading cleantech companies. I am so excited to have this opportunity to grow a business with a mission to make a global impact,” says Allen.  

In the next phase of the challenge, she will receive $800,000 worth of support from Natural Resources Canada and MaRS Discovery District, and participate in an intensive 30-month business accelerator program before competing for the $1-million prize.