The company reports that it has been a significant year for the group with solid advances towards the commercialisation of its technology. Unaudited revenues in the year and net cash at the year end were in line with the Board’s expectations.
Highlights in the year included:
• The Group’s first commercial orders - to supply CFQD resin to global manufacturer Wah Hong.
• New routes to market established for CFQDs in display.
• TVs using Nanoco CFQD Fine Color Film exhibited at CES in January 2017.
• Runcorn manufacturing facility became commercially viable.
• A growing pipeline of potential display business.
• Progress in life sciences and lighting markets.
The market in display for CFQDs continues to grow, driven by the increasing appetite for enhanced color and brightness and the penetration of Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs. According to IHS forecasts, 26 million displays will be QD equipped by 2021, with more than 90% of the market cadmium-free. Samsung, with its recently launched QLED brand, is leading the field and sold more than three million QD displays in 2016.
The recently announced legislation in Europe, banning the use of cadmium in displays from October 2019, may be expected to accelerate the move to CFQDs. Several major Taiwanese and Chinese display and TV manufacturers are now actively seeking CFQD solutions, where Nanoco continues to have a competitive lead, the company notes.
Nanoco’s Runcorn manufacturing facility has been extensively enhanced - with costs substantially reduced - to enable the group to supply commercial quantities of its product to fulfill the anticipated volume of future orders. It now has capacity to produce enough CFQDs to supply approximately one million large TVs, operating on a 24/7 shift pattern. Further capacity can be achieved with limited capital expenditure and will be brought online as demand increases.
The group’s relationship with Wah Hong Industrial Corporation, its optical film partner, has progressed well. Product from Nanoco/Wah Hong was used by three manufacturers, Hisense, TCL and TPV Philips at CES in January 2017, to demonstrate prototype large screen, UHD, wide color gamut LCD TVs. Wah Hong brought forward its investment in a new coating line, which is now commissioned and capable of producing films to fit up to 100 inch TVs. These developments resulted in Wah Hong placing the first commercial order for CFQDs from Nanoco in June 2017.
Nanoco’s other channels to market are via its two licensees, The Dow Chemical Company and Merck KGaA. Dow sells product under the Trevista brand, manufactured in its facility in South Korea. Dow commented that it sees growing interest in cadmium-free quantum dots and has been engaged with several display customers considering adopting quantum dot technology.
Nanoco has completed the transfer of technology to Merck, who have successfully produced pilot plant scale quantities of CFQDs at its Darmstadt, Germany facility. Merck is actively engaged with their potential customers on various CFQD application projects and sells under the Livilux brand.
In May 2017 Nanoco signed a collaboration and JDA with Kyulux Inc to future proof the Group and ensure it remains at the forefront of next generation products. Under the agreement, Nanoco’s CFQDs will be combined with Kyulux’s technology to create future generation hybrid OLED/QLED display technology.
Nanoco has also strengthened its patent portfolio in electroluminescence with the acquisition of a patent portfolio from Kodak Eastman. Today the Group benefits from c.600 patents and patent applications.
While display was the group’s primary focus during the year, Nanoco continued to develop its other target markets of life sciences and lighting. Nanoco’s Life Sciences division made further progress in in-vivo optical imaging, diagnosis and targeted therapy of cancer, being awarded an Innovate UK Grant for a VIVODOTS program in conjunction with University College London targeting pancreatic cancer.
Lighting continues to make headway, in line with management’s expectations, within specialty niche markets, including horticulture and photodynamic therapy products.
The board has decided that the solar business is non-core and has commenced the process to divest that business.