BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) CEO and Managing Director Giles Bourne gives an update on the company's strategic alliances in the US and UK and its growing patent portfolio.
Jessica Amir: Hi I’m Jessica Amir with the Finance News Network. Today I’m joined by BluGlass (ASX:BLG) CEO and Managing Director, Giles Bourne. Hi Giles, welcome back.
Giles Bourne: Hi Jessica.
Jessica Amir: First up, 2017 for you guys was really just about advancing your exclusive collaboration, with a leading US company called Lumileds. Just tell us how it all went?
Giles Bourne: Lumileds is producing high performance LEDs for applications, such as automotive daytime running lamps and a third of the cars on the road, would have Lumileds products in it. So those lights always on in cars, they would be Lumileds style high performance LEDs. And the companies like Lumileds are always looking at trying to get higher performance out of their LEDs. So they came to us in 2016 and we embarked on a collaboration, which was using BluGlass’s RPCVD technology, its low temperature deposition technology, to make higher performance LEDs. And so we entered into this collaboration, which really had two phases.
At the end of it, we entered into the commercialisation part of the project. But the second phase really involves us making material, sending it to Lumileds, they then process it and then turn it round. And then we use those results to improve the technique, and it has taken longer than what we would have liked. And that’s largely because there’s a lot more complexity involved in it. But having said that, the technology team are incredibly happy with the progress and we’re breaking new ground with RPCVD, that’s never been done before. And so it still remains a really key project for the company.
And during the end of 2017 we upgraded one of our tools, which is the BLG-300, the bigger of the tools that we have. And we’ve been using that for this project as well and that’s helped enormously. So all in all, it’s a project that is heading in the right direction and then we will certainly update the market, as progress continues along the path.
Jessica Amir: Lumileds filed an application patent that mentions the RPCVD. Just explain what that all means and what does it mean for BluGlass?
Giles Bourne: Having patents and protecting our intellectual property is key to what we do. So protecting the equipment and the process, that’s absolutely critical. As we enter into collaborations with leading industry players, we’re going to see more and more patents being filed and how they might use our technology in applications. So for instance, Lumileds have filed a patent around using it for an LED application. We’ll continue to build on the fundamentals of our technology, the equipment and the process. We have a strong patent portfolio now, but we expect it to grow during the course of 2018.
Jessica Amir: You’re also working with UK-based semiconductor manufacturer IQE (AIM:IQE). How’s that shaping up?
Giles Bourne: Aside from the other projects that we’re working on with Lumileds and other collaborators, IQE has been an important one for us. Again, they’re utilising ourtechnology on a performance play for applications, which are not LEDs. Unfortunately we can’t disclose what the applications are, but they’re equally as important as LEDs. So that project has been ongoing for sometime and again, we’re seeing some really encouraging progress there. And we’ll continue to work on that during the course of 2018.
Jessica Amir: I understand you’ve also been working with Veeco. Just tell us who they are and what you’re doing with them?
Giles Bourne: BluGlass has been working closely with this company Veeco for a number of years. The way it works in the valuechain, you’ve got a couple of people who manufacture the equipment, Veeco being one of the leaders there. And then you’ve got the people who make the actual devices, the LEDs and such, that’s Lumileds and IQE. So Veeco are one of two really equipment manufacturers, who dominate this market. So every single LED will be made on a Veeco machine or the competitor, which is Aixtron (ETR:AIXA).
Veeco started working with BluGlass a number of years ago, evaluating our technology and looking at how they could use the technology, integrate it into their equipment. And that’s been ongoing for sometime, but we published some data at the end 2017, which got them very interested. And that data is really showing our technology operating over larger sized equipment and larger wafers. On the back of that, we expect to have a much closer collaboration with Veeco during the course of 2018. So it’s something we’ll unfold during the course of this year, and we look forward to updating the market on that as it goes.
Jessica Amir: It looks like it’s going to be a pretty exciting productive year. What else is on the cards for 2018?
Giles Bourne: We have many, many things going on as you can tell. We’re very busy with our Lumileds project and IQE, and we expect that Veeco’s obviously going to be very important. But there’re a number of other activities that we’re doing as well. So we’ve been working on this services business and the services business is really about doing contract manufacturingfor people, using our equipment and our facility. And we’re looking to grow that business. We formally launched it as a brand called EpiBlu at the end of last year, and we’re now going to have a much bigger presence at industry conferences.
So we’ll be sending people from EpiBlu to actually hold a stand at conferences and actually make the industry more aware, so expect that to grow. Now not only is that a revenue generator for our company, but what it does do is helps us get some strategic partnerships about. So for instance the IQE business, that originally started as a contract manufacturing business then morphed into a full-blown collaboration. So its got a strategic element to it, so we’ll spend a lot more time looking at that side of the business as well.
And then there’re some other applications for our technology. Some really exciting ones, which we touched on at the AGM at the end of last year and one of those, would be micro-LEDs. It’s a very topical subject at the moment. Micro-LEDs are really being used more and more for displays, AR, VR, mented and Virtual Reality. And there are some very big name players working in the micro-LEDs space. And we think we’ve got some natural advantages there and we’re looking to exploit that during 2018. So it’s an area, which we think will be really interesting for the company going forward.
Jessica Amir: Incredibly exciting, Giles Bourne, thank you so much for your time.
Giles Bourne: Thanks Jessica.