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October 14, 2013 11:12 am

Applied Graphene Materials plans Aim float

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Investor appetite for graphene is to be tested as a manufacturer of the super-strong, superconductive “wonder material” seeks to raise £10m through an Aim flotation.

Applied Graphene Materials, a spinout from Durham University, wants to boost production as a global race to find commercial uses for the British discovery hots up.

Sir Andrei Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov won the Nobel Prize for physics after isolating the material, which is the thickness of single atom layer of carbon, at Manchester University in 2004. Graphene has since attracted significant interest for its electrical, thermal and mechanical properties – with potential applications ranging from flexible touch screens to faster computer chips.

AGM said graphene’s wider adoption had been hampered by the inability to produce it cost efficiently and at scale.

The company cited forecasts for total graphene demand to increase tenfold from 40 tonnes a year to 400 tonnes by 2017. Forecasts suggest a market for graphene products of $195m by 2018 growing to $1.3bn by 2023.

AGM plans to increase the capacity of its existing plant at Wilton, Teesside, to eight tonnes a year over the next 18 months, for investment in technical and business development, commercial partnerships and to extend the applications’ capability.

IP Group – an investor specialising in intellectual property-based businesses and university spinouts, has a 22 per cent stake in AGM – with other regional investors and staff, including founder Professor Karl Coleman, holding the remainder. People close to the company said it was aiming to raise £10m, giving AGM a valuation of £25m, and expected shares to start trading in November.

Professor Coleman, professor of inorganic chemistry at Durham, spun out the business in 2010.

Jon Mabbitt, chief executive of AGM, said: “The global appetite for, and interest in, graphene is growing at a rapid pace. Many industries have recognised the significant qualities it possesses.

“We have seen considerable interest from blue-chip businesses which have recognised the advantages of our production process, enabling us to continuously produce graphene cost efficiently on a commercial scale.”

N+1 Singer is acting as nominated adviser and sole broker to the company.

In March this year, Graphene Nanochem – a company specialising in the low-cost production of graphene – began trading on Aim through a reverse takeover of Biofutures International.

Three months later, Manchester University academics spun out 2-DTech, which offers single-layer graphene sheets manufactured by chemical vapour deposition on a range of material.

Work has begun on a £61m research centre at the university as the UK attempts to take advantage of the discovery. But countries such as Korea and Singapore are spending hundreds of millions on research.

The European Union has set up a €1bn research fund for graphene.

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