It’s all under control and coming back home for Versarien
“…We’re creating a new science here. I’m really delighted that Versarien is making so much progress across so many different sectors…”
The progress made by Versarien Plc boss Neill Ricketts over the past seven years can be measured in both pounds sterling and decimal measurements. “In 2014 it took us about a week to produce half a gram, and at the end of 2016 it took us a month to make a kilo. I can do that in a few hours now.”
Ricketts is referring to graphene the advanced material that he and his team believes is the technology “which is going to change all of our lives.”
“We need this technology to be able to resolve some of the big problems we have in society. The plastic pollution issue, water filtration for the third world, the reduction in fuel for aircraft and rail and cars, the EV revolution that’s going on, sustainability on textiles.”
Ricketts could go on ad infinitum, but it’s what the team is working on at the moment that is going to define the Forest of Dean-based business in the short term.
Versarien made headlines last year with its swift integration of graphene into the world of PPE during the early stages of the pandemic. It produced a mask of many colours that was breathable and effective. The Versarien mask that is awaiting regulatory approval now is a sustainable re-usable one for both the consumer and industrial sectors, “It will be a revenue generator,” says Ricketts who then utters the immortal words. “It’s a Remington thing. It’s that good I wear it myself.”
That will be lost on most born after the Victor Kiam advert of 1989, but it’s the generations now and to come who will be the beneficiaries of graphene. Versarien is pushing ahead in terms of graphene’s applications on so many different fronts. Construction, tyres, textiles, carbon fibre, automotive, aerospace to name a few. And to house and hone the talents who will be working on those applications, the company is in the process of opening an Innovation Centre.
The Innovation Centre can’t come soon enough as Versarien has grown from the garage to hubs in the USA, China, Korea and Spain.
“Don’t forget that graphene is the first of probably 2000 new materials, so we need lots of people and we need to be getting on with it,” says Ricketts who admits he’s feeling the pressure, “and it’s not about cash, but how do we achieve all of these big goals we’ve set ourselves.”
“I know sometimes that shareholders are frustrated that it’s taking too long, but we’re creating a new science here and there aren’t any books to tell us how to do stuff. We have to learn, but overall I’m really delighted that the business is making so much progress across so many different sectors.”
In terms of cash, Ricketts says the company is well funded and deconstructs the loss figure in the most recent results. “We’re doing the right job. We’re keeping our eye on the costs. We’re spending as much money as we need to in order to develop this new technology which is going to change all of our lives.”
Listen to Neill talk to Sarah Lowther about how the construction side of the business is hot on the heels of textiles to market and why he’s taking a stand against the defamatory.
Watch Neill speak to Punchline Talks! Mark Owen about Versarien’s key role in HS2, and its tie up with ChangeMaker 3D to produce 3D concrete printing on location to help reduce the ‘carbon footprint’ of the high speed rail project.
View the 2021 Annual Report
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Follow the company on Twitter – @versarien
The author was remunerated but does not hold shares in the company