Biggest Innovate UK loan to date secured by Cheltenham graphene company

Neill Ricketts Versarien

Versarien plc, the Cheltenham-based advanced materials engineering group, has been awarded a £5 million loan facility by Innovate UK Loans Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of UK Research and Innovation.

This is the biggest loan awarded to date by Innovate UK, and is specifically for a project named G SCALE, (an acronym for Graphene-Seat, Concrete, Arch, Leisure, Elastomer) which is designed to enable Versarien to significantly increase its manufacture of quality assured graphene.

Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien, said: “Versarien is delighted to have been awarded this loan by Innovate UK, which acknowledges the work we are undertaking and advancements made Our vision for the business also sits within the context of the UK government’s industrial strategy ‘Grand Challenges’, which is focused on clean growth, the ageing society, AI and the data economy and the future of mobility. The loan will help Versarien step up its graphene production capacity so that we can expedite the commercial adoption of graphene enhanced materials”

Innovate UK has been running an extended pilot innovation loans programme over the past three years with £75 million committed to the scheme with normal loan amounts of up to £1million. The innovation loans are targeted at UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SME) that want to scale up and grow by developing new or improved products, processes or services, as well as late-stage research and development projects that have not yet reached the point of commercialisation. 

The award of the loan follows a rigorous process of innovation assessment and is intended to facilitate the production of sufficient quantities of graphene by Versarien to enable market supply of commercial quantities of graphene-enhanced materials.

Loan repayments will begin 45 months after drawdown and be paid over a subsequent period of 36 months.  The Loan attracts at an interest rate of 7.4 per cent per annum with half of the interest deferred until the repayment period commences.  The loan includes normal commercial financial covenants, together with certain operational covenants designed for UK IP protection.

The loan will be available for drawdown following perfection of normal commercial security arrangements in eight quarterly tranches, the first of which drawdowns is expected within the next month. Further, details concerning the Loan will be provided upon the completion of security documentation, which will be announced in due course.