£1 million investment for Welsh start-up tackling a global, $2.5 trillion-dollar problem

Senior Investment Executive

A start-up company that has discovered a safer, smarter way to tackle corrosion has secured a cash injection of £1m; which will support ambitious plans to become the industry standard in anti-corrosion technology.

Corrosion costs the world economy 2.5 trillion dollars every year, and last month, the EU banned its most effective inhibitor, hexavalent chromate, because of health concerns. Hexigone Inhibitors plugs the gap by offering a new additive for metal coatings that is safer and can be up to ten times more effective than chrome-free alternatives...protecting buildings, cars and aeroplanes for longer. 

The technology - Intelli-ion - protects in a unique way. Unlike their competitors, Hexigone uses ‘chemically intelligent’ micro reservoirs that make the coatings responsive to the environment, triggering the release of the inhibitor ‘on demand.’ 

This innovative approach to tackling corrosion has secured investment from Development Bank of Wales and angel investors, Phil Buck and Andy Lewis, as well as an innovation loan from Innovate UK; totalling over £1 million. Along with support from investment expert Owen Sennitt and AgorIP, the money will allow the company to deliver their product to a trillion-dollar global market, bringing jobs and further investment into South Wales. 

The team is already working with 20 industry partners across four continents, including leading global coating manufacturers. In the last 12 months; with support from the Accelerated Growth Programme; Hexigone has grown from one to seven employees, and with Welsh Government financial backing, they aim to create 40 jobs in an area where historically there’s been a decline. 

Alexander Leigh, Technology Ventures Investment Executive at the Development Bank commented:

“The funding package from the Development Bank and other co-investors will help Hexigone achieve full-scale commercialisation and distribution of the product. This makes it a perfect fit for the Wales Technology Seed Fund which supports innovative University spin-out companies and helps them bring their products to market, creating high value jobs and wealth in Wales.”

Tim Sawyer, Chief Investment Officer at Innovate UK added: 

“We are very pleased that Hexigone is one of the first companies to receive an innovation loan from Innovate UK. Significant challenges can represent great opportunities, and the aim of innovation loans is to help businesses to scale and grow through highly innovative technologies, as shown by Hexigone’s exciting new approach to inhibiting corrosion.” 

CEO and founder, Dr Patrick Dodds, made the discovery when working at Swansea University on his European funded doctorate Welsh Government (ERDF) funded doctorate. His aim was to research alternatives to the recently banned, carcinogenic inhibitor, hexavalent chromate; which was made infamous by Erin Brockovich in the 1990s. The result of this research was a game-changing product for the construction, automotive and aerospace industries…and a new, safer, smarter way to tackle corrosion. 

Industry expert and investor, Phil Buck, commented:

“In my 40 years in the industry, we have been searching for a comparable anti-corrosion pigment that delivers the same results as lead and chromate complexes. None of the new developments have given that. Now at last we have a corrosion inhibitor that provides the level of performance that our clients need to protect their assets (cars, buildings, planes and ships); and the people who use them; for longer. Hexigone are now able to offer the corrosion industry what they have been looking for, for a generation and it demonstrates that Wales has the skills and talent to build world class products and businesses.”