BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) CEO and Managing Director Giles Bourne talks about the company's FY17 operational and financial highlights, industry collaborations and progress towards commercialisation of its RPCVD semi-conductor technology.
Jessica Amir: Hello I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me from BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) is CEO and Managing Director, Giles Bourne. Giles welcome back to the Finance News Network.
Giles Bourne: Thanks Jessica.
Jessica Amir: To start off with, for those new to the company, can you give us an introduction?
Giles Bourne: BluGlass is a technology in the compound semiconductor space. We have a technology for depositing materials called gallium nitride, which are key materials used in high efficiency optical electronic devices, such as LEDs, solar cells, power electronics, consumer products that are all around us.
Our technology came out of Macquarie University sometime ago. We raised money through listing and then we’ve gone on through our fundamental research. And we’re getting to the point now with our technology, where we’re just beginning the commercialisation process.
BluGlass has a technology called Remote Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition, or RPCVD for short. And essentially it’s a reactor for making these materials called gallium nitride, which is used for high efficiency optical electronic devices, such as LEDs, solar cells, power electronics, consumer products that we all use everyday. LEDs for instance are in the back life of mobile phones, television and laptops. If you buy a new car these days they’ll have daytime running lamps, which are LEDs, so all around us. And our technology is involved with that.
To do that we have a research facility in Silverwater in Sydney, which is a standard lab facility where we have all of our operations, all our research happens there. And driving that technology we’ve got 21 people, 12 of those PHDs who are expert material scientists, who have been working on this program for a number of years. We’re now approaching commercialisation. And we’ve now increased the market cap of the company to around about $100 million, as we approach that commercialisation piece.
Jessica Amir: You’ve just recently released your FY17 results. Giles, can you give us some of the highlights?
Giles Bourne: We’ve upgraded some of our equipment, we’ve got three reactors in our facility. One is a standard industry; standard reactor and we’ve got two reactors, which are in proprietary technology. And we spent quite a bit of time investing in and upgrading that equipment, to come more in line with industry standards. So larger area wafers for deposition and greater uniformity. The last of those reactors just came online very recently, a few weeks ago.
Also during the year, we raised $8 million, which was supported by institutional investors and also existing retail investors. And that helps us to complete the R&D and go through to commercialisation. So with that in mind, we have about, certainly over two years of operational cash, which we think is sufficient to take us all the way through to commercialisation. And to support the program, we’ve hired a couple of additional research engineers, who are working on this program. And then more recently, we put another director onto the Board who is an expert in finance, capital markets and also licensing as well.
Jessica Amir: Now to the technology and the industry evaluation. Can you remind us what are the competitive advantages of your technology?
Giles Bourne: Our technology is something that’s been developed for a number of years. And the fundamental advantages that we’re offering the market, and it’s now coming through that stage of being proven up on real industry programs, but essentially, we have a reactor as I said, for making this material gallium nitride. And we do it at a much lower temperature. So we use what is called a plasma source. We take pure nitrogen, put it through plasma and we get our active ingredient or active nitrogen for the reactor, at a much lower temperature than the materials are grown in the current MOCVD process, for making these materials.
That lower temperature equates to better quality material. The better quality material in turn, equates to better performing devices. I mean that’s putting it very simplistically. But essentially, it’s better quality material, higher performing devices, which in terms of an LED that means more light output. And that’s precisely the collaborations that we’re working on with Lumileds. And we have other collaborations with other partners, talking about other advantages of the technology, for other types of applications. But the fundamentals are lower temperature, better quality material, better performance.
Jessica Amir: Still on Lumileds, can you tell us how Phase 11 collaboration is going?
Giles Bourne: We’ve been working with Lumileds since March last year. And when we started the collaboration, it was really divided into two phases. The first phase we got through in October 2016 and we’re now working on the second phase. It’s really coming up with a prototype product. And we’re well advanced on that phase, and it’s at the end of the Phase 11 that we expect to put in a commercial arrangement with Lumileds. So we’re pretty excited with the way things are going. It’s been one of our biggest projects in the company and it’s going according to plan.
Jessica Amir: To help fund the development and to bolster those strategic relationships, you operate a foundry. Can you tell us more about that?
Giles Bourne: The foundry essentially, we’ve got are three reactors that we use for research and development, but they’re not always operational for research and development. When we do deposition on those machines, the materials have to be taken out and characterised and then the machines are then down. And so when they’re down, we’re using them for actually doing production runs for customers. So we’ve got a number of customers who use us to do small production runs, really prototyping and proving up some new concepts they have. And we do that for a fee for service.
And why do we do that? Well there’re a number of reasons why. Not only is the revenue nice to have for the company, what it does do is get us working on real live customer problems. But I think most importantly, the foundry business for us develops really interesting future collaborations. So the foundry business is absolutely core to what we do, in not only delivering revenue for the company, but developing these interesting collaborations for future opportunities, for our technology.
Jessica Amir: Can you elaborate on the work that you’re doing with IQE, the UK semiconductor foundry?
Giles Bourne: We were doing some contract manufacturing for them and now it’s a full-blown collaborator. Now IQE don’t make consumer products, but they do, do large-scale volume manufacture of compound semiconductor materials. And we’re now working on a project with them, which is really applying our technology to non-LED applications.
Jessica Amir: Last question now and being a bit more specific about your pipeline. Where do you see BluGlass 12 months from now?
Giles Bourne: So, as we transform from being a research based company into a commercial company, the next 12 months is really all about taking our key projects and taking them through to commercialisation.
Jessica Amir: Giles Bourne, thank you so much for the update.
Giles Bourne: Thank you Jessica.