Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) Chief Executive Officer Adrian Potts caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their interim results, key priorities for the next 12 months and what makes them different to other graphene providers in the market.
Q1: Interim results out for the six months ended 31st January 2019, what were the highlights from the last 6 months?
A1: A few areas so we’ve carried out a strong strategic review within the business, really with a key focus on exploitation of the extensive pipeline opportunity we have. Our focus is clearly over targeting revenue now over the next 6-12 months and increasing the opportunities for routes to market for our product technology.
From a manufacturing standpoint, looking at production readiness is key to what we’re doing as well and then our technology development to support strongly that technology readiness for the industry.
In terms of technological progress, we’ve seen outstanding new anti-corrosion data that we’ve developed that’s been widely presented recently and exhibited at a number of trade shows. That tells us that we remain a clear leader in innovation, in coatings technology which is now our primary focus for revenue delivery, and it maximises the opportunity for new commercial collaborations as well. We’ve received extremely positive feedback from the sector and that is driving commercial engagement based on the outstanding performance capability that adding graphene to coatings technology is creating.
In terms of further technology for composite materials, we’ve seen structural ink applications developing well and this is where we are selectively placing graphene exactly where it needs to be to produce enhanced performance in composite materials.
Thirdly, a collaborative development programme focussed on enhancement of fire-retardant composite materials for the mass transit industry, we’ve seen significant progress now in terms of performance testing and manufacturing trials.
From a commercial progress standpoint, we’re excited now with a few customers who are starting to come to revenue realisation, both with James Briggs and commercial maturity for their Hycote product launch which is a graphene-loaded anti-corrosion primer. We’ve seen scale-up trails continuing with a company called Applied Nano Systems for a graphene-loaded coating system for low friction applications. Airbus Space and Defence, our qualification of thermal paste products for satellite applications is now near in completion and we are getting very close now to first order commitment.
Q2: So, both operationally and strategically you’ve had a busy 6 months. Just looking forward now, what are the key priorities for the next 12 months?
A2: It’s all about our focus on accelerating commercial momentum and generating revenue for this business with our extensive customer engagements. So, we have over 120 engagements, or programmes, within our sales pipeline and opportunities are really starting to mature towards revenue now.
From a manufacturing standpoint, our key priority is twofold really. We’re looking at capturing product cost reduction opportunities and we have a strong programme of work going on in that area and then looking at productionisation readiness, not just for graphene manufacturing but also in the area of dispersion technology. So, we have a strong programme looking at scale-up for that side of the business to be able to support the revenue generation as that starts to come through.
In terms of IP, we see strong technical presence within the coatings industry, we’ve committed to a much greater presence within that industry in terms of presenting our data and putting ourselves out there. Our data that we are presenting has generated some outstanding performance results and exceptional feedback at a number of technical conferences. That process will continue throughout this year.
Applied Graphene Materials’ platform technology, with our Genable product range which is now fully launched for a number of dispersions of graphene, gives us the ability to easily integrated graphene into customer formulations. That also gives us the platform technology to approach new routes to market through distribution, so we are looking now to appoint distributors for those standard products. We’ll be happy to be announcing some of those arrangements in the near future.
Finally, not to underestimate the amount of technical support that we need to give to customers to get them to where they need to get to in terms of proving out the performance of graphene in their formulated products. We are focussed now on dedicated technical support to customers to enable us to work much more closely with them to realise some of those benefits in their coatings applications.
Q3: How does Applied Graphene Materials distinguish itself from the number of different graphene providers in the market?
A3: You’re right to point there are a number of different providers in the industry and many of them are dealing with graphite as their starting material.
We have a unique bottom up process and that enables us to produce, first of all, the scalable material in an easy manner, it also produces very high quality graphene product that has repeatable quality to it. So, we’re confident within our bottom up process and the graphene that we’re manufacturing.
Secondly, we’ve developed an extremely strong in-house IP in terms of dispersing graphene, really to enable the delivery of property enhancements into customer products. That’s true whether it’s in the world of composite materials or in our prime focus market of coatings technology. We have seen some outstanding performance improvements in the world of anti-corrosion products, and we see that as a key differentiator in terms of product offering and enabling customers to realise outstanding solutions for their technology advancement which in turn will deliver revenue for us.
In terms of performance gains in finished products, we’re able now to really be confident in the proven and repeatable performance that we’re able to achieve with graphene and adding that to customer formulations to enhance their products.
Our key focus is in the world of coatings technology, so this is looking at barrier performance for paints and coatings, it’s looking at anti-corrosion enhancement for paints and coatings. So, this is to extend the life of a coating and in turn extend the life of the product that is coated with a painted coating technology solution and thirdly, looking at chemical resistance and enhancing chemical resistance for paints and coatings. All this adds value to our customers’ product potential.
In the composite sector, a targeted approach in the composite sector looking at delivery technology to enhance the toughness performance of composite materials.
We’re gaining significant industry recognition for our expertise, our proprietary Genable graphene technology has driven industry-wide recognition of our expertise particularly in the coatings sector as a key innovator for that market.
We were pleased to be able to be nominated as a finalist for the Materials Performance Coating Corrosion Innovation Awards in 2019, that was under the National Association of Corrosion Engineers in the United States. It just underscores the credibility that we have within the industry, the performance gains that we’re making by integrating graphene and the way that we’re able to differentiate ourselves to create a strong technology platform for future revenue generation.
So, some really good stuff going on.