Technology firm Xeros said it has made significant progress towards commercialising its technology at a time when the world is threatened by the environmental challenges of water scarcity and pollution.
The Rotherham-based firm, which makes polymer beads that can be used in specially designed washing machines, has branched out into cleaning and decontaminating firefighters' uniforms in the US. The firm said its technology is saving firefighters' lives.
Xeros' chief executive Mark Nichols said: "Lives are being shortened because of the inhalation of toxins and carcinogens that stay within the uniforms. Xeros' technology is the only technology that can decontaminate firemen's uniforms. It can help save the lives of firemen and it also makes the garments last much longer."
He was speaking as the group announced income of £2.3m in 2017 and a loss of £28.7m. The group said it is at a pivotal point and it hopes to start making a profit over the next few years.
"In high performance workwear we will be profitable very soon," said Mr Nichols.
"The cleaning of firemen's uniforms will be profitable by the end of next year. In domestic laundry, we are in discussions with domestic washing machine manufacturers and we could be profitable by 2019."
Xeros develops polymer based technologies which improve the sustainability, performance and economics of water intensive processes, dramatically reducing water, chemistry, energy and effluent whilst either meeting or exceeding the conventional quality standards.
It has established that its technologies can deliver these benefits in three world-scale industries: cleaning, tanning and textiles.
It is now progressively commercialising applications in these sectors to generate profitable returns.
Given the scale of its markets, the strategy is to commercialise the technology with partners who already have strong international market positions.
"This is a home grown Yorkshire story with a really good message," said Mr Nichols.
"In 2016 we worked out what this technology could do. We decided we could be doing more in cleaning technologies. We wanted to wash more difficult garments.
"2018 is the pivot point. Taxes on water in China are really emphasising the adoption of our technology. The biggest markets are in China.
"In addition, water pricing in the US is growing at around 7 per cent year-on-year."
The group said that water scarcity is becoming a global problem.
"The world is running out of water," said Mr Nichols.
"China is the most water stressed population on the planet. It's a major issue.
"Our technology decreases water usage by immense amounts and we extend the life of fabrics such as towels by 10 per cent."
It is currently commercialising its cleaning technologies business and its hotel and lodging division generated revenue of £2.0m last year.
High performance workwear generated revenue of £200,000 in 2017.
In December, it raised £25m before fees in an oversubscribed placing to accelerate the commercialisation of its divisions. The group expects to raise further funds in 2018.
Having extensively tested its technology in the high added value Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) market during 2017, the group entered this market with the acquisition of Marken PPE Restoration’s operations in Nevada last July.
This was an initial step to create a nationwide network which will enable the firm to serve the US firefighter market.
It has since acquired its second and third sites in Atlanta and Miami through the acquisition of Gloves Inc. in March and hopes to open two more sites by the end of 2018.
The target is to have a total of five sites by the end of 2018 with full national coverage of the US achieved by the end of 2019.
The US firefighter PPE market is a specialist market for the cleaning, inspection and repair of uniforms and is valued at £230m a year.
Each professional firefighter has, on average, two sets of bespoke turnout gear.
Analysts at Jefferies said in a note:"Xeros raised £25m in December with the clear goals of containing costs and delivering conclusive commercial traction for a focused set of applications of its bead tech, before any further funding would be required.
"Costs have been cut and management present a convincing case that multiple deals will be delivered within (we estimate) no more than six months. The wait may be uneasy but should prove rewarding."