Applied Graphene Materials plc (LON:AGM) Chief Executive officer Adrian Potts caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss full year results, their new commercial service offering ‘Innovation Accelerator’ and whether COVID-19 had any impact on the business.
Q1: Applied Graphene Materials announced full year results following a period of increasing positive news flow. Adrian, can you talk us through the highlights?
A1: We’re really pleased with strong progress in the year, we’ve made excellent commercial progress and I feel during the period seeing a number of customer products advancing through the year which is a really important metric for us.
As you know, our whole graphene engagement with customers involves iterative testing and formulating efforts and it’s a real pleasure to see customers bring products to launch and those products then able to achieve commercial traction in the marketplace.
So, products like with our customer Blocksil with their topcoat MT product and with a graphene addition, as we’ve often seen with our graphene materials, transformational performance achieved with a graphene addition. In this case, doubling the performance of a coating to 10,000 hours of product performance which is an amazing achievement when you look at the graphene addition and what it does to that coating.
Post-period end, we’ve also been pleased to see three more customer product launches, one in the protective coating sector with a company called Kent Europe based in Germany and they’ve brought to market a graphene-enhanced aerosol-based primer which is great to see ,great performance with the product and really looking forward to commercial momentum with that material.
In an emerging market for us, in car care so protective coating for car paint systems, we’ve been pleased to see two companies accelerate their innovation and bring graphene-enhanced materials to market, utilising our innovative graphene dispersions. So, first of all, Infinity Wax, and they launched a product just recently called Graphene QDX, it’s a sprayable car detailing material which adds to things like shine and water shedding and durability of that coating. Secondly, a company called Innovation Chem, who trade through EZ Car Care brand, have launched a material called Graphene Wax which is a carnauba wax type of product with graphene in, again creating similar properties.
So, these are just a few of the successes in our journey with customer collaboration and that iterative testing program that that I talked to earlier.
Our technology platform has advanced really well for graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, we’ve seen new products coming to market there as well.
Lastly, I’m particularly excited about our announcement about high quality graphene partners for distribution and that’s increased our footprint in the market dramatically in new areas for us, the USA, Canada, and near Europe. We’ve seen just an increase now to around 60 industry experts worldwide focused on promoting our graphene dispersions to the, principally, coatings market but really anywhere where liquid resin technology is able to be used in tandem with a graphene dispersion.
Q2: You also announced at the end of last week, a new commercial service offering called Innovation Accelerator. Can you tell us more about that?
A2: We’re really pleased to have launched this service and it really represents the embodiment of what we’re all about so that deep customer engagement involves a lot of technical engagement, both in the aspirational stage and the formulating stage, with our products and we wanted to formalise that. As we see the commercial acceleration potential with distributors, we wanted to put in place a programme that is a menu-driven programme that is easy to use and it creates the footprint for customers to be able to fast track their process of product integration, product evolution and ultimately bringing products to market.
So, Innovation Accelerator is a package of technology offering whereby we can engage directly with customers, we can develop products with them in a faster, more effective way, bringing to bear all of the attributes, not just materials, but the knowhow that we have to really good effect and enable customers to fast track solutions.
We’re promoting that as a paid for service as well so it creates a nice addition to revenue stream potential for us as well.
Q3: I know you’ve been so busy, and it doesn’t sound like it, but has Coronavirus had any effect or impact on Applied Graphene Materials’ performance?
A3: Two areas really, in terms of you look at our own business, we took a look at this when coronavirus and the all the lockdown issues and restrictions on work started to be implemented in the UK, and of course globally, it’s such a challenging time and being able to manage that effectively has been one of our biggest day to day challenges really. I think we’ve done a really good job with that, we purposely decided not to furlough stuff, one of the key reasons for that what the long-range testing projects that we have running and the cost to stopping all of that and then starting it all up again at some point in the future. It would have cost us four or five, maybe six months of traction and we wanted to be ready for the emerging market as and when that opportunity starts to come together again.
So, we’ve maintained a balance of our staff working from home and at the bench onsite and we’ve been pretty smart about the way that we separate people, our primary focus of course has always and continues to be safe working for all of our employees. I feel that we’ve done a really good job with that in tandem with the site that we’re located on at Wilton in the Northeast of England.
If you turn our attention to our customers, I think that’s where we’ve seen a slowdown in demand and that’s been a result of, if you put in context what we do, we supply dispersed materials to principally coatings companies, they take those products, they integrate them into their products and then those graphene-enhanced coatings are then able to be utilised in assets that need repainting. If you don’t have access to those assets, it creates something of a challenge.
So, we’ve seen some of those opportunities slow down but it’s not slowed down the commercial engagement that we’ve had, in fact, we’ve seen our direct commercial pipeline number of opportunities actually increase in the period which is great to see as well.
So, I think we’ve done a good job with it, it’s not without its challenges of course but we continue onwards and upwards. We’re looking forward really to the emergence of customer opportunities to be able to access their customers projects and that will start to create pull for us, in terms of demand for dispersed graphene materials.
So, we’re really looking forward to that uptick and really looking forward to further successful product launches from the direct engagements that we have ongoing.