Applied Graphene Materials CEO Q&A “solid technology base from which to accelerate growth” (LON:AGM)

Applied Graphene Materials plc (LON:AGM) Chief Executive Officer Adrian Potts caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss highlights from their interim results, new applications and what we can expect from the company in the near future.

Q1: Applied Graphene Materials have just released interim results, what would you say were the key highlights?

A1: A number of different points to make. So first of all, as people will be aware, we predominantly operate in the industrial coatings space for utilising graphene materials as a protective agent in anti-corrosion applications and beyond. That whole industrial coating space has been substantially affected by continued challenge of both the combination of COVID-19 and a general slowdown of pace of customer activity on the innovation side due to supply chain challenges.

Despite this, we’ve managed to increase our total number of customer engagements over the 12 months and we’ve seen launches of new products to market in recent months as well, by our customers.

Over the past six months, our distributors have developed a really strong appreciation for our dispersed graphene products. As investors will be aware, we don’t just make graphene but we do a lot of work to put those into dispersion to make those materials easy to use and easy and safe to integrate into customer formulations and our conduit to market is through distribution. So, we’ve focused hard on really training our distributors well in being able to use those products effectively with their clients and how to get best use out of those materials.

We’ve successfully expanded our network of the addition of Rayoung Chemtech in Taiwan. They’re proving to be a great addition to the distribution network and their enthusiastic approach is already leading to multiples of product sampling for their prospective customer base. We’re similarly making good progress in Latin America and India and expect to make further announcements to additions to our distributor network in due course. During the period, we’ve had some excellent customer engagements with the likes of the UK Environment Agency and Alltimes Coatings and then protective coatings for floor applications.

So, our engagement with the UK EA is particularly good for us, we’ve supplied a finished primer containing graphene for its first use in UK flood defence assets. It’s an important project for AGM because it demonstrates the sustainability advantages of such a coating in what is a harsh coastal corrosion environment.

At All times, I mentioned those earlier, are seeing growth in the use of their Advantage Graphene product in construction applications and that Advantage Graphene product utilises our graphene dispersions.

Floor care market so coatings containing graphene that can be applied as protective coats for industrial floor coatings use, our lead customer in this area is now at the completion of their testing phase and they’re now moving towards the development of a marketing campaign for their first graphene enhanced floor coating product so we’re really excited about the prospects there.

Adjacencies to the industrial coating sector, in the car care market, about 20% of everything that we do by sales value or prospective sales value is in this area, some good traction there with customers, supplying customers, both in US and UK and European markets. A number of customer evaluations approaching completion, initially we’ve launched products through our customers that are relatively small and niche customers. We’re now seeing good traction with some of the larger entities in the car care sector and that in itself is real testament to the power of graphene in those applications. We’ve got a real sense of excitement about some of those customers coming through to completion because they’re larger customers, they have a greater quantum of engagement with the industry, more retail presence on retail shelves. So, a good anticipation for growth in dispersion supply to that market.

Q2: Are there any new applications of your technology that you tell us about?

A2: Yes, absolutely. So, data generation, first of all, for the chemical resistant coatings space, and we’ve talked at length about this in the past few days about this adjacency to the anti-corrosion market so we’ve kind of cut our teeth as it were in the anti-corrosion space and that’s an important area for us, I’m a firm unbelievable that if you can be successful in the complexities of anti-corrosion coatings formulations then there’s good read across into other areas that use liquid resin technology.

So, chemical resistant coatings is as an adjacency to that, it creates a great opportunity for us to push in a major way into that sector. The data that we’ve generated has been long in its inception and we’re now at the point of being ready to launch into that market with of our graphene dispersions.

We’re doing some great stuff in the world of composites, particularly in the area of the hydrogen storage space, and that is now starting to gather momentum for us, based on the solid example already that we have with one of our customer, Infinite Composites Technologies. We are now starting to see, as I say, increased momentum there with a number of other customers who are operating and investigating composites in the hydrogen storage space. So, this is for composite carbon fibre pressure vessel structures, the use of graphene in that area creates a great opportunity for mechanical performance improvements, as well as permeability improvements to those types of structures.

Thirdly, in the area of thermal interface materials, we already have a platform of technology for thermal adhesives so we’re extrapolating that now into thermal interface materials for application in areas such as heat management for battery technology so some really good stuff going on there as well.

Q3: Just looking forward, I know you’ve just hinted at this but what can we expect from Applied Graphene Materials in the near future?

A3: So, anticipating a near term major marketing push into the area of chemical resistant coatings and that has the potential to open up substantial new prospects to us for our opportunity pipeline for the application of our graphene dispersions into that broader range of coating possibilities, certainly beyond anti corrosion. This is a result as a set of a major data generation project that has recently wrapped up for us and we’ll be presenting that data imminently.

The car care sector, we see great potential in this area with larger players, those larger opportunities present really a potential step change in terms of dispersion volumes for us, for this market.

Potential opportunities continue within our pipeline of engagements for harsh corrosion opportunities, such as we’ve seen with the UK Environment Agency and the coastal flood defence project, construction industry, infrastructure, electrical, aerospace and also in world of concrete, particularly as regards protective coatings for concrete.

So, we have a solid technology base, which we’ve touched on, from which to accelerate growth and really great confidence in our expanded global network of distributors and their ability to take our products and present them well to those technical opportunities within the prospective regions.

So, we’re really confident in our ability to unlock the potential that we see for graphene nanoplatelets through our graphene dispersion and technology platform and I’m really excited for the future of this business, particularly as the coatings industry returns to some sort of normal and back to that innovation opportunity cycle that we’ve been looking for over the past few months.