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: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*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.