DTU start-up goes public

FOM Technologies—which sells equipment for production of plastic solar cells—has been approved for a listing on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market for small and medium-sized enterprises.

As of June, the start-up FOM Technologies is listed on First North, which is Nasdaq’s growth market for SMEs. FOM (Functional Organic Materials) Technologies was set up in 2012 on the basis of a coating machine developed at DTU that makes it possible to mass produce plastic solar cells.

“The purpose of the stock exchange listing is to obtain new capital which we will use to strengthen our sales internationally, where we believe we have good growth opportunities,” sais FOM Technologies’ CEO Michael Stadi.

The technology that enables mass production of plastic solar cells is called ‘slot die coating’ and is done using a coating machine, where you practically print a material on either glass or thin sheets of plastic. The printing means that it is possible to distribute ultra-thin and completely uniform layers of a material on a large surface. The technology has also proved useful in materials research.

“With our coating machines, researchers are able to examine the properties of a new material on a much larger scale, much faster, and much cheaper because they avoid waste of their materials, which are usually expensive to manufacture,” says Michael Stadi.

Apple and Microsoft are customers

Over the years, FOM Technologies has further developed the coating machines for new applications, which has widened FOM Technologies’ customer base. Where—to begin with—the customers were primarily universities and other research institutions, FOM Technologies now also sells its equipment to enterprises that develop batteries, membranes for water filtration, lab-on-a-chip solutions, or pressure-sensitive foils for touchscreens in the automotive industry.

In recent years, FOM Technologies has also added to its customer portfolio a number of heavyweight companies—such as so-called Fortune 500 companies—including Apple, Microsoft and the energy company Phillips 66.

“We don’t always know what the companies intend to develop using our equipment—because some of them keep their cards pretty close to their chest—which is to be expected,” says Michael Stadi.

It is easier for FOM Technologies to follow the use of the equipment in universities and research institutions because researchers publish their results with information about the use of the start-up’s machines. MIT is one of the universities that bought one of the largest machines in FOM Technologies’ product portfolio last year.

“We’re very proud that no less than MIT uses our technology for its research and development,” says Michael Stadi, who adds that they have only sold equipment abroad:

“We don’t have a single customer in Denmark. Our customers are primarily from the United States and Asia, and we believe that we can sell much more equipment, but we need the capital injection that the stock exchange listing gives us. We don’t have time to wait for steady organic growth that comes by itself, because we then risk being overtaken by our competitors,” says the CEO.

Gearing up for growth adventure

In recent months, FOM Technologies has been gearing up for the growth adventure which it hopes will be realized through the stock exchange listing. The start-up has hired several employees, who now number seven in total.

FOM Technologies hopes that the move onto the First North Growth Market will be just the first step on a major journey where—after a few years of growth—the start-up can be listed on the ‘real’ stock exchange for the really big companies.

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