Ten years after starting its search for an effective antimicrobial coating, the Dublin firm will launch its weapon against bacteria, writes Trish Dromey.
With revolutionary new antimicrobial coatings designed to turn almost any surface into a weapon against bacteria, Dublin-based start-up Kastus Technologies is preparing for a global launch in January.
Its offering includes two patented products — one for use on glass and ceramics and another which can be added to paint and plastic.
“These kill 99.99% of bacteria, are harmless to humans and the environment and are totally unique,’’ according to company founder and CEO John Browne.
As the world fights a war against superbugs, which according to some experts could cause 10 million deaths a year by 2050, Mr Browne believes the market potential for this technology is staggeringly vast.
“Healthcare is the most obvious market but our coating can be used anywhere there is a large throughput of people – in hotels and public buildings, on public transport, in cleanrooms, food preparation areas and bathrooms and on ATMs, touch surfaces and Smartphones – Smartphones may yet be our biggest market,” said Mr Browne.
Kastus is currently in advanced negotiations with a range of potential customers which are capable of using antimicrobial coatings in a multitude of ways and putting them to use on a multitude of surfaces.
“We are talking to four of the world’s top five glass manufacturers, to over ten global paint/chemical producers as well as several large plastics manufacturers in Europe” said Mr Browne.
The product launch in January will come ten years after the Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology (CREST) and DIT started work on developing the technology with the help of €3m in EU funding. The launch will also come three years after Mr Browne licensed the technology and set Kastus up to commercialise it.
Since late 2013, Mr Browne has, in addition to conducting market research and holding discussions with multinationals, been engaged in securing patent protection on the IP.
“We now have US and UK patents on both our products and also have 13 patents pending in other regions. This has been a frighteningly expensive process but a very necessary one.’’
Last year the company’s chief focus was on product validation and it arranged for a series of external tests to be carried out in Germany and Ireland, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the coatings and also to prove that they are harmless to humans and the environment. Having secured the necessary IP protection in 2015 to prepare for a market launch, Kastus has this year found an Irish manufacturer to produce the products under contract and is now concentrating on rising the necessary funding.
Back in 2013 Mr Browne used private funding to establish the company at Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. Last year Kastus was supported by Enterprise Ireland which accorded it High Potential Start-Up status and provided investment of €250,000.
Now Kastus is in the final stages of raising seed funding of €1.5m. Said Mr Browne: “ This will allow the company to scale from start-up to revenue generation stage with significant investment in sales and marketing, business, development, R& D and regulatory compliance.”
Once the funding round concludes this month, Kastus will make further preparations for the launch.
“We start hiring in November and will take on between eight and 15 people in business development, marketing and technical roles. We currently have two full time staff and expect to grow this to 30 or 40 by 2018.”
In 2017, Kastus is targeting a turnover of €3m. By 2018, it expects to see mass market adoption of its products and accelerated growth. We are ultimately building a company which will be worth €100m,’’ said Mr Browne.
For Kastus the key selling point is the uniqueness of its patent-protected technology. “There is no other antimicrobial product for ceramic and glass – our additive for paint and plastic is superior to anything else and is not harmful to the environment”.
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