Nanoglue? Seriously?

I’ve enjoyed some of the commentary the last couple of weeks around Anteo’s updated investor presentation (ASX : ADO) and received an enormous amount of criticism for my obvious lack of understanding of the company. I must admit, it is evident that a huge amount of work has gone into polishing the company and its message in the last short while. I particularly enjoyed the firming up of the “Nanoglue” concept. Sexy. Completely unoriginal, but sexy.

I suppose at some level, all surface chemistry is nanotechnology. Sort of the same way that burning your toast is also nanotechnology.

I have previously commented on the implausibility of ADO’s business model in IVD / medical devices. I am not going to re-hash that here, except to say that I will not change my position until meaningful revenues are in. At the moment, all I see are new product introductions (another Mix&Go variant, yay!), which is a great way to make a lot of noise without actually having to sell anything. They have also now added bioseparation as a fundamental technology arena for the company. Wow. Ok, let’s just gloss over that one and ignore the issues of production scale-up, manufacturing of food / clinical grade materials (again at scale) or the enormous validation requirements of bringing a new purification technology to market (I say that having been part of organisations that were formally early test sites for new resins, etc.).

The really huge departure in the business model is … wait for it (drum roll) … batteries. Yes you hear correctly, BATTERIES.

Yep, ADO has gone all “nano” on us and decided that their future is as a platform technology where they don’t actually produce anything, but deliver “Nanoglue” for everything (love slide 16 – the “world of Anteo”) – including energy storage. Do these people have any idea of what is actually involved in commercially delivering a new chemistry, at scale, for batteries? The world is littered with companies that have tried to bring new energy storage platform technologies to life and failed – companies that came out of world-class laboratories and spin-outs from major corporations where people had spent decades actually … ahem… building batteries…

Now, I am not a snob, I am willing to believe that the answer to all our problems is going to come out of a little public company in Queensland. Frankly, stranger things have happened. But at least give us some reason to believe you?

My absolute favorite slide in their investor presentation is (appropriately) slide 13:

Er... Scientific

Er… Scientific

Aside from my confusion about exactly what “conventional” graphite li-ion battery ADO is actually referring to, I have no idea what this slide means except that ADO is “more”. Are we talking about a comparison with the “conventional” technology of the devices John Goodenough or  Rachid Yazami* made in the lab decades ago or the most recent high-density graphite composite li-ion devices made by a company like Enevate?

Critically, does this graph actually tell you anything meaningful at all? Does it indicate that ADO even understands the energy storage space or where it is going based on this comparison? Is there any indication of what scale this “comparison” took place at (i.e. was it a 1mm-squared thin-film or was it a “can” that you can whack in your Tesla-S). Any indication of 3rd party validation testing? (a huge big deal in battery technology – CSIRO has a nice lab that’s available, incidentally). Can someone even tell me what the units are on the axis?

In short, this is just a load of hype without any substance whatsoever. ADO (and collaborators) must really think that investors are stupid. Anyhow, I realise that this is somewhat a departure from “life sciences” (i.e. the focus of this blog) but this is so out of world, I couldn’t help but pass comment on it.

As Mork – a fellow space cadet would have said – Nano nano… er… nanu nanu

Anteo's new battery platform demo. Nice!

Anteo’s new battery platform demo. Nice!

*Incidentally, I got to know Rachid while he was visiting professor at Caltech. Interesting guy with a very colourful career. He also had several failed commercial attempts at novel battery chemistries with many tough lessons learned about the challenges of commercialising nanotech. Sadly, I was unable to use that experience to make Fibron a success, despite beautiful technology… sigh.

Note: for all you Gen-Ys/Millennials who don’t get the Robin Williams / Mork and Mindy reference, look no further. Apologies for being esoteric. RIP RW.

4 thoughts on “Nanoglue? Seriously?

  1. Pingback: Anteo Energy : One MILLION Dollars | The Long Tail

  2. I just stumbled on your blog and I think you have some very good insights, particularly on Prima Biomed. However, there are some posts such as this which is more of a long winded whinge with little substance. Have you got a personal vendetta with one of the board members from a previous experience?

    This diatribe doesn’t tell me much much except that you’ve got an axe to grind. I don’t mind it if you do, but it would’ve been great if you made the reasons for this clear in your post.

    Pointing out obvious hurdles and useless “fact’s” don’t add anything other than to assist in pointless grandstanding. e.g.

    “The world is littered with companies that have tried to bring new energy storage platform technologies to life and failed” – The world is littered with people that have failed at everything. People have failed trying to set up everything from a local takeaway shop to a multi million dollar manufacturing businesses, bio companies etc. Are you suggesting that no one should ever try anything because others have failed? What was the point of mentioning this?

    I’m sure there’s a multi-billion dollar sinkhole that exists in cancer treatment that companies like Sirtex have been trying to address, but I’m sure the board and most investors are aware of that too.

    It is also obvious that the slides in Anteo’s presentation you refer to tells us very little, but it seems to be clear that it is a non-core project. I wouldn’t expect much from it until they have done further work on it that they can speak to. Nothing to get excited about yet, but just something to note that might warrant a closer look in future.

    Like

    • Well, I’ll start at the end.

      Yes, Anteo’s presentation materials (re-hashed by various investor forums) tell us nothing and may even be misleading because of the lack of substance. I’m not here to add to the vast amount of baseless glowing waffle, I’m here to provide a cautionary and (mostly) constructive counterpoint. You seem like an intelligent guy – when did having an opinion constitute grand-standing?

      … and a personal blog hardly constitutes a “grand stand”, really. Does it? It’s not like I am pacing out the front of your house with a placard, so if you don’t like my opinions, don’t read them.

      As for Sirtex, you probably saw all the great (deserved) media coverage the last few days. As you know, I think Sirtex is a very good company because they do things RIGHT. They show integrity in their clinical trials, in their investor communication. My main issue with Sirtex is actually they could use a little more PR fairy-dust sometimes (ie polish) in the way that they communicate.

      Regarding personal vendettas, I have none. The only objective I have is to call bullshit when I (in my personal opinion) see it. I don’t really know why this upsets people so much. I’ve covered about 20 companies so far on my blog, how could a vendetta be the basis for my actions? I’ve been very clear and transparent about my motivation for this site – it is to provide an alternative opinion where warranted and to “hold” a higher standard for ASX life sciences companies. It’s good for the industry to have some balanced viewpoints with all the rubbish that gets spruiked out there.

      I am not afraid of failure at all and I applaud people that take risks. I wholeheartedly agree that the world would be a different place if people didn’t have vision, dreams and aspirations that were larger than life. It’s even great to go about tapping the public purse to make those visions a reality. All I ask is that when you do so, particularly in Australia’s frothy retail environment (Mum-and-Dad investors, self-managed superfunds) is that you show a little integrity. My comment about ‘failures’ is very simple. If you tell us you have a game-changing technology, substantiate it.

      My last comment is Anteo-specific. By ANY metric this company has failed to deliver on its core business. Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Much ADO About Nothing | The Long Tail

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