Applied Graphene Materials secure funding for two research projects as interest grows

Th Durham University spin-out has secured funding from Innovate UK to work in partnership with two international firms

Dr Chris Herron and Jon Mabbitt at Applied Graphene Materials in the Wilton Centre, Teesside
Dr Chris Herron and Jon Mabbitt at Applied Graphene Materials in the Wilton Centre, Teesside

Durham University spin-out firm Applied Graphene Materials Ltd has secured Government funding for two projects it hopes will fuel the company’s growth.

The firm will work with partners DuPont Teijin Films to investigate the use and dispersion of graphene within polyester films. A second project, with PolyPhotonix and CPI, will look at the development of graphene-based transparent electrodes.

In a note to shareholders the firm said the projects were indicative of the scale and global nature of the commercial partners it was now working with.

In late 2013 Applied Graphene Materials Ltd raised £11m when it floated on the stock market, and says it has benefited from the global profile that it has established and from the growing awareness of the potential of graphene across a large number of sectors.

The Redcar-based firm said it was still focussed on its core target market areas of polymers and composites, paints and coatings, and lubricants and oils.

Led by chief executive officer Jon Mabbitt, the firm is concentrated on supplying smaller samples of graphene rather than commercial quantities, as the firm noted it is difficult to predict when full production could be achieved.

Oliver Lightowlers, chief financial officer, told The Journal: “Our listing last year has really served to promote us and generate interest in what we’re up to.

“It’s also allowed us to raise the capital to increase our operation, particularly creating jobs in the Redcar area - which is not only good news for us but for the regional economy too.

“We’re focussed on creating the dispersions for a broad range of graphene applications. There are a lot of companies internationally that are keen to incorporate the material into their products, all at different stages of scientific understanding.”

A statement from the firm said: “During the second half of the year, the Group has spent a significant amount of time seeking to improve the consistency and quality of graphene produced, resulting in several design improvements to the Group’s production assets.

“The improvements made have been successful, with benefits realised in consistency and quality, and customer sampling towards the end of the financial year.

“The Group has also continued to put in place additional infrastructure to capitalise on the early stage momentum that the business has achieved and to enable the longer term potential of the business to be realised.

“The Group has also invested elsewhere to support future growth, including the addition of a full time technical director. The effect of this investment is that costs for the years ending 2015 and 2016 will be higher than previously expected. The directors remain confident that this investment in infrastructure will support the long term growth of the business.”

The workforce at Applied Graphene Materials has doubled in recent months, and looks set to total 30 by the time of the firm’s full year results.

Graphene - a crystalline form of carbon that can be used in everything from tennis rackets to computers - has attracted worldwide attention for its high performance electrical, thermal and mechanical properties.

The idea of creating a business from it came from founder Dr Karl Coleman, a professor of inorganic chemistry who based the firm’s operations and processes on technology he initially developed at Durham University.

Applied Graphene Materials is expected to issue its full year results for the year ended July 31, 2014 on November 5.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer