Kromek Group PLC (LON:KMK) said it has begun a £1.25mln programme funded by Innovate UK to customise its biological threat-detection solution to automatically detect airborne viruses, including coronavirus (COVID-19).
The detection technology specialist said the solution is designed to be deployed in high footfall locations such as airports, hospitals, retail outlets and entertainment venues, with the initial focus of the programme being to develop a system to rapidly test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Kromek said that detecting the virus in real time will “enable earlier identification of potential infection exposure to help reduce transmission”, adding that the system will also have the capability to test for a “wide spectrum” of other viruses, including mutations of SARS-CoV-2, which it said will support the development of bio-resilience solutions against new strains of COVID-19 and other viruses that could cause future pandemics.
The firm said it is currently engaging with potential customers for the COVID-19 detection system and that it expects first pilots of the solution to begin by the end of the current financial year with commercial deployment in 2021/22.
"We are very pleased to have received backing from UKRI and Innovate UK to progress the deployment of our solution for the detection of airborne COVID-19. Our system can augment the government's Test and Trace system by enabling early identification of potential exposure to the virus while supporting the safe return of visitors to public spaces like mass transport, retail outlets and entertainment venues”, Kromek chief executive Arnab Basu said in a statement.
“We also believe that the continuous monitoring with our system, which can test for a wide spectrum of viruses as well as mutations of COVID-19, has significant potential for protecting against the outbreak of pandemics in the future", he added.
Significant revenue growth expected in second half
In a separate announcement reporting its results for the six months to October 31, 2020, Kromek said it is expecting “significant revenue growth” in the second half of the year thanks to “increased trading and improved visibility” as commercial activity rebounded.
For the first half, the company reported an adjusted (EBITDA) loss of £0.9mln compared to a £0.6mln loss in the prior year, while revenues moved to £4.6mln from £5.3mln.
Despite the wider loss, Kromek said orders and shipments had resumed across all of its segments in the final two months of the period as business patterns began to return to normal and commercial activity increased into the second half.
"I am pleased to report that we finished the first half of 2020/21 in a stronger position than we entered the year, resulting from a considerable uptick in trading in the last two months of the period. We are starting to see a return to some normality in business patterns as our customers recommence their commercial activities. In particular, our largest medical OEM customer has begun shipping their next-generation scanner, which, as they continue to ramp up installations in the second half of the year, will enable the fulfilment of the long-term contract we have with them”, Basu said.
"Looking ahead, the positive momentum seen in the last two months of the first half has continued into the second half of the year with increasing detector shipments. The renewed level of activity within our customer base is underpinned by the commercial traction Kromek has demonstrated in recent years in winning multiple, high-value contracts and we are excited about our new opportunities in the bio-security market. As a result, we expect to see significant growth in second half revenue compared with H1 2020/21 and the Board continues to look to the future with confidence and optimism", the CEO added.