Irish company Kastus has come a long way. Since beginning life as a spin out from the Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology at Dublin Institute of Technology (CREST DIT), the company has gone on on to win the overall prize at the prestigious Irish Times Innovation Awards in 2017.
It is two years since the company secured a worldwide patent for its photocatalytic antimicrobial coatings and additives, which are +99.99% effective against even the most difficult ‘superbugs’, including Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter and MRSA. Securing those patents has enabled Kastus to commercialise the antimicrobial coating for an incredibly broad range of applications including ceramics and glass.
“The investment we put into our patenting process is significant. Our Intellectual Property is key to the business,” explains John Browne, Kastus founder and CEO.
Toxin free superbug killers
Kastus’ Log4+® solution is uniquely activated by indoor light and moisture in the air. Additional properties include: easy-clean functionality, non-leaching, super scratch-resistant, optically clear and easily factory applied. No toxic by-products are produced, and the Log4+® solution generates oxygen radicals, contributing to air cleaning. As John describes, “Log4+® is factory applied using high temperature sintering, so the coating is there for the life of the host surface.”
John explains how Kastus’ Log4+® solutions work for customers around the world, “We’re essentially a chemicals manufacturer. Our customers are a very diverse range of companies, including global glass and ceramics manufacturers. They factory apply our solution to their products, including floor and wall tiles, and internal and external glass products. The fact that it is permanent and self-cleaning is very attractive to large multinationals and offer opportunities for increased revenue and margins. The solutions are designed to be easily integrated into the client’s manufacturing processes and require minimal additional capital expenditure or process steps.”
Some applications will be more familiar to readers outside of the manufacturing industries. John comments, “We’re collaborating with a broad range of global companies who are interested in using our solution on a range of products including smartphones and tablet surfaces, aviation, packaging, external self-cleaning glass and roof tiles. There are big opportunities in the world of consumer electronics, with products such as microwave ovens, fridges and devices like tablets and smartphones. 80% of infections come from what we touch, with the average smartphone screen carrying 10 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.”
Investing in innovation
With global patent protection secured in late 2016, Kastus launched in the UK and European markets last year. In December, Kastus signed a major UK customer, British Ceramic Tile, the UK’s largest manufacturer of ceramic tiles, the company produces 30,000 square meters of tiles each day. The company’s CEO, Tony Taylor, says, “We supply all sectors of the UK industry, with around 10 percent of our output going to overseas markets. We are delighted to work with Kastus on this innovative technology.”
Kastus is currently in the midst of a multi-million euro investment round raising additional capital to ramp up commercial expansion. By the end of this year, Browne sees the company doubling the number of its employees to a staff count of 30. He is especially interested in recruiting personnel with the language skills to sell into Europe. “Initially, they will be employed in Dublin,” he says. “But as we grow we will be looking to have personnel based overseas.
“We are primarily targeting Turkey, Germany, France, Holland and Italy, but Spain and Portugal are also on our horizon. Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, has been great at facilitating overseas visits to meet clients either in their in-market offices or at international trade shows. If there are overseas customers who would like to meet us or other Irish companies in the sector, Enterprise Ireland can help facilitate trips.”
Today’s applications are just the start
Last year, Kastus appointed Dr James Kennedy as Director of Innovation to its board to manage and support continued innovation within the company and to protect and monetise its inventions and discoveries. “We are creating a pipeline of new products and technologies that we can integrate with our offering to our existing customer base and that will also provide us with new customers in a very broad range of sectors.”
With innovation at the heart of the company, it is no surprise that Kastus continues to push the boundary of the potential applications for its coatings. Browne explains, “We have a range of products in development and have recently launched a solution that can be used on metals. This coating has many applications including the aviation, architectural hardware and consumer electronics sectors. As the solution is both antimicrobial and anticorrosive, there are applications both large and small. We see the product being used on sinks, worktops and on door handles, in hospitals and cleanrooms in the food industry, but also in offices and in the home. We also have a patented zeolite product that is a great fit for the paint industry.
John concludes, “Who knows what new applications our partners will find for our Smart Multi-Functional coatings and additives. We have exciting times in store.”