AUSTRALIAN investors have shown interest in TenasiTech's nano-additive that is set to change the surface of the acrylic industry.
The Brisbane-based company was established in 2007, after chief scientist Professor Darren Martin developed the technology at The University of Queensland.
TenasiTech's core product is SOLID-TT, a material added to acrylic glass to make the surface more scratch resistant.
SOLID-TT is sold in a powder concentrate and is easily combined with thermoplastic for processing by a manufacturer.
The company has also developed Adaptive Polyol for use in polyutheranes, to boost flexibility and performance in these softer plastics.
TenasiTech CEO Richard Marshall says the company has a foothold in the US and has relocated to Boston to drive growth, while the research team remains in Brisbane.
"The reality is Australia is a fantastic place for developing new breakthroughs, like SOLID-TT for TenasiTech, but it can be hard to find many customers here for the sorts of things we're doing," Marshall says.
"We really needed to look offshore, but that's part of our strategy to expose ourselves to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Being in the US is a great way to do it."
The company's key focus has been to establish long-term supplier relationships with manufacturers to secure continual production.
The technology has generated interest among international manufacturers looking to incorporate SOLID-TT in a range of products from cars to computer screens.
"They'll have applications for their plastics at the moment and they'll want to try take it to the next step they're the sort of relationships we'd like to set up.
"We've been approached by a car company that is very interested in using it for more scratch-resistant internal components in cars.
"But beyond that in electronics, like the edge of your computer screen or TV screen, that's acrylic glass and these sorts of things always appreciate a bit more scratch resistance.
"There's a range of companies that have shown interest, it's all a matter of picking the right ones."
After extensive competition analysis, Marshall says the team hasn't found a product similar to SOLID-TT that can achieve scratch resistance through an additive powder.
Traditionally, manufacturers will add a secondary coating to plastics, which is typically an expensive process.
"The cost of what is effectively a second manufacturing step is prohibitive for many applications, and that's where we fit in," Marshall says.
"But also one of the issues of hard coating is that once you hard coat something, you can't polish it or you rub the coat off.
"By using an additive that goes into the plastic itself, we can give people material that they can later bend and shape. So it provides design flexibility as well."
A consortia of Brisbane Angels and Melbourne Angels invested $485,000 in equity capital for the company last year, along with a further $450,000 from TenasiTech's original investor, Uniseed.
The financial backing was used to commercialise and instil consumer confidence in the product, with Marshall saying TenasiTech is poised to tackle the market.
"We think we're on the cusp of some very exciting things," he says.
"We know we've got a world-first product for what is a big real-world problem that has been there for a long time.
"The next couple of years I think will really be the fruition of years of hard work."
TenasiTech is a contender in the 2015 Telstra Business Awards.
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