Engineering and Manufacturing
Much-watched manufacturing firm sums up ongoing year of change and triumphs
One of the county’s most watched manufacturing firms has revealed the impact of covid on its business, a change in emphasis in how it deals with China and a focus on monetising its technology.
We are talking about Versarien, the advanced manufacturer forever linked to the versatile carbon-based super material graphene, seemingly destined to find its way into numerous products and processes.
Its preliminary results show a firm which has seen revenues fall to £8.3million, from £9.1 million in 2018, and losses before tax of £4.7 million (2019: £2.8 million).
However, as co-founder and chief executive officer Neill Ricketts states, the Cheltenham headquartered firm has achieved a lot, from millions of pounds worth of funding, deals with Airbus and Rolls Royce to managing to stay operational throughout the current pandemic.
“Recent times have been dominated by the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic have presented on a global basis. However, I am pleased to report Versarien has continued to operate throughout and achieved much during lockdown,” said Mr Ricketts.
“I am particularly grateful for the support of the UK Government both in its provision of a £5 million loan via Innovate UK to allow us the opportunity to scale up and to expand the reach of our graphene operations.
“Our global expansion plans have changed direction slightly as we have decided that progressing into the Chinese market, whilst significant commercially, must be done on the basis that we are confident that our IP is protected.
“We have exciting opportunities elsewhere, and the change of emphasis in China is not precluding commercial deals being done; the supply of graphene in masks manufactured in China being the first example utilising our graphene technology.”
He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our continually supportive investor base and our employees for their hard work as we look forward to the future with continued optimism and confidence.”
James Stewart, none executive chairman of the firm, said: “Our focus is now very much on the monetisation of the graphene technologies in our portfolio, although we will continue to fill any product gaps as opportunities arise to do so.
“Having exercised the backstop arrangement for our joint venture in China, our intention is to use Beijing Versarien Technology Limited ("BVT") as the vehicle for channelling sales enquiries back to the UK for the supply of graphene and/or application products into China.
“Additionally, we are also looking at how products that utilise our graphene can be imported. It is particularly pleasing to see this in the graphene enhanced mask launch recently announced.
“The Board of BVT has been appointed and consists of Neill Ricketts, Matt Walker and Bruno Jin, who will also act as General Manager.”
The preliminary results are for the period to the year ended March 31 2020.
Post Period highlights
· Product development agreement signed with J&P Coats Limited, part of Coats Group plc, to incorporate graphene nano-platelets and graphene inks into consumer textiles
· £5 million Innovate UK loan awarded in June 2020, with security arrangements completed, for scale up and product development related to the GSCALE collaborations
· Graphene Enhanced Protective Face Masks launched with first orders received for 120,000 masks.