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Briefcase: Business snippets from around SA

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In this week’s briefcase, Adelaide companies Nova Eye Medical and Spacetalk move closer to profit after reporting strong increases in sales, junior mining explorer Maximus Resources raises $12 million and Business SA outlines its vision for a pool in the River Torrens.

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Nova Eye posts $4.35m loss despite sales boost

Medical technology company Nova Eye Medical has recorded a net loss after tax of $4.35 million in its first full year since selling a major stake to a French multinational including its former name Ellex Medical.

However, the publicly-listed company, which now specialises in the development of technologies for the treatment of glaucoma did record a 25 per cent increase in device sales for the 2020-21 financial year.

Even with key markets such as the United States experiencing a downfall in glaucoma surgeries in light of COVID restrictions, sales of the company’s iTrack and Molteno3 devices increased to $13.1 million (US$9.27 million) compared with $11.6 million (US$8.27 million) at the end of FY20.

Much of the company’s sales growth was driven by the sales of the iTrack minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) device.

“Several initiatives were executed during the period to drive improved market penetration of the company’s iTrack MIGS device, which resulted in strong sales growth,” he said.

The sale of about 75 per cent of the company’s revenue base was finalised on June 30 2020 and included the Ellex name, which is a strong brand in the United States, prompting the name change to Nova Eye Medical.

It also included the company’s hi-tech manufacturing facility in Mawson Lakes.

While about 170 staff now work for the Lumibird-owned Ellex in Mawson Lakes and its subsidiaries around the world, Nova Eye has set up new headquarters in Kent Town and has about 50 staff mainly in California and Adelaide.

Nova Eye manufactures iTrack in California and despite sales of the device being severely hampered in the early stages of the pandemic last year, numbers improved throughout FY21.

Executive Director Tom Spurling credited the company’s strong US sales, as well as the establishment of a subsidiary in Germany, which sells devices direct to eye surgeons, with contributing to the result.

“While the US remains our most important market, our direct sales presence in Germany represents an important milestone in our stated growth strategy.”

$12 million placement to drive Maximus gold search

Junior mining explorer Maximus Resources has completed a $12m placement to accelerate its gold and nickel exploration and development strategy in Western Australia.

The South Australian company will complete the $12 million placement over two tranches at A$0.068 per share.

Perth-based Pantoro Limited will be included in the placement and is set to emerge with a 19.9 per cent stake in Maximus.

Maximus Resources Managing Director Tim Wither said the strong support for the placement means Maximus is fully funded to advance its gold and nickel exploration programs across the Spargoville tenements, with particular focus on our Wattle Dam Project.

“We welcome Pantoro as a strategic investor, not just as a cornerstone shareholder, but as a successful high-grade gold producer with a wealth of knowledge and skills to support Maximus’ strategy,” he said.

Mined until 2012, Wattle Dam was one of Australia’s highest-grade gold mines producing ~286,000oz @ 10.1g/t gold.

Maximus is developing several small high-grade operations across the tenement portfolio, whilst actively exploring for the next Wattle Dam.

Pantoro Limited is an Australian gold producer that owns the Halls Creek Gold Project in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia and recently acquired 50 per cent of the Norseman Gold Project.

“Pantoro is confident that Maximus now properly funded will continue its success in definition of substantial resources within its tenements,” Pantoro  Managing Director Paul Cmrlec said.

“We look forward to assisting Maximus to achieve its goals, and ultimately realising the synergies that exist between our projects for the benefit of shareholders of both companies.”

Spacetalk ticks closer to profit

MGM Wireless co-founder and executive chair Mark Fortunatow.

South Australian smartwatch manufacturer Spacetalk has moved closer to profit with the company recording a 44 per cent increase in total revenue in the 2020-21 financial year, thanks largely to the increased sales of its wearables.

Despite posting a net loss of $1.7 million, the company’s total revenue increased by $4.63 million in FY21, with device revenue increasing by 65 per cent to $12.75 million.

The improvement also included an increase in App revenue of 76 per cent, jumping to $2.2 million on the back of the Spacetalk App launch in December.

The listed company also rolled out a new strategic business model for its smartwatch for seniors, Spacetalk LIFE, which included registering Spacetalk as an NDIS provider, as well as implementing Fall Detection in the Spacetalk LIFE seniors device.

Spacetalk founder and CEO Mark Fortunatow said the record revenue was driven by a combination of hardware sales, subscription increases and the onboarding of large tier-1 partners.

“Our new partnerships with some of the world’s largest telcos – including Telstra, Telefonica UK (O2), Virgin UK – bears testament to the strong growth in the kids’ smartphone watch category and their urgent focus on participating in it; importantly, with us,” he said

“In sum, FY21 has been a seminal year in which we have brought to market world-first new technology and our products now range as the flagships of the category for some of the world’s largest telcos and retailers.”

The Adelaide company, formerly known as MGM Wireless, initially made its mark by pioneering school messaging systems and changed its name last year to help it ramp up a global push into the smartwatch market.

Business SA’s pre-election policy splash

An artist’s impression of Business SA’s vision for a swimming pool in the River Torrens.

Business SA has launched its pre-election policy pitch with a proposal for a concrete swimming pool along the River Torrens.

The state’s chamber of commerce over the weekend asked the State Government and Adelaide City Council to consult after launching a feasibility study for a 50-metre natural pool to run alongside the Torrens in Elder Park.

Among the recommendations from Business SA is for water from the Torrens to feed the pool with multiple layers of treatment in-between.

Business SA CEO Martin Haese said the pool would provide a “much-needed” tourism boost for the CBD in the summer when daytime visitation drops as families head to the beach.

“We would expect local businesses and sporting clubs utilising this scenic location to benefit from the uplift in visibility that this pool would provide, including Jolleys Boat House, Lounders Boatshed Café, Popeye, Captain Jolleys Paddleboats, the many rowing clubs and others,” Haese said.

“With treated River Torrens water naturally feeding this swimming pool, Adelaide can significantly boost its sustainable credentials by hosting a nation-first sustainable pool on the doorstep of the CBD.

“A feasibility study will have to be undertaken to verify our assumptions, but the experts we have engaged to scope this proposal are optimistic that this project can be delivered safely and successfully.”

The former lord mayor of Adelaide said it was important the Kaurna people were engaged in any consultation process over the pool’s construction.

He also said the adjacent pool could be the first step in restoring the entire River Torrens to swimming standard.

The suggestion comes as Business SA prepares to this week release its 26-point pre-election policy charter.

The industry peak body says the document will contain a list of policy proposals designed to meet the short, medium and long-term needs of the business community in South Australia.

Beam launches ‘Glide’ feature for Adelaide e-scooters

Singaporean micro-mobility startup Beam has launched a new app feature allowing riders to switch between scooters or e-bikes without paying a second fare.

The company, which operates in the Adelaide CBD, Norwood, Payneham, St Peters, Semaphore and North Haven, currently charges a $1.00 unlock fee and a subsequent $0.38 for each minute spent riding one of its 1150 South Australian purple e-scooters.

Their new “Glide” app feature will allow riders to get off and back on their scooter without having to pay a second unlock fee – provided they return to their journey within 30 minutes.

The start-up said the new feature was designed to “further integrate Beams into the city’s transport network and make it even more affordable for residents to travel”.

“(It is) perfect for when switching between an e-bike and e-scooter in the same journey, taking a short break between multiple trips (e.g. ducking into shops, running errands) or utilising e-scooters as part of multi-modal journeys,” Beam said.

Beam plans to expand their suburban offering to the Unley Council area later this year.

The move comes after Beam’s chief competitor in Adelaide, Neuron Mobility, last month offered free scooter rides to anyone travelling to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

UK expansion for hi-tech Adelaide welder

Adelaide hi-tech welding developer K-TIG has signed a United Kingdom distribution deal following success in the United States, as it looks to accelerate growth in target markets.

The five-year non-exclusive deal with automated welding and robotics manufacturer Key Plant Automation follows K-TIG’s successful expansion into the US over the past year after refining its distribution model.

The North American rollout involved an agreement between K-TIG and Key Plant Automation’s US subsidiary in January to pilot an integrated sales model.

K-TIG’s high-speed precision technology welds up to 100 times faster than traditional TIG welding, achieving full penetration in a single pass in materials up to 16mm in thickness and typically operates at twice the speed of plasma welding.

K-TIG Managing Director Adrian Smith said the new distribution deal was an important step in growing the company’s network of partners within the UK and Europe.

Under the agreement, K-TIG and Key Plant will establish an advanced manufacturing demonstration facility.

Key Plant will also distribute K-TIG’s welding products in the UK as part of their turn-key welding automation solutions.

“The UK and European markets have long been part of K-TIG’s long-term expansion plans,” he said.

“The region is experiencing growth of aerospace, defence and nuclear sectors, advanced manufacturing, a changing energy sector and businesses needing to innovate to stay ahead of increasing environmental standards.”

Angle Park track reopens after $2.8 million upgrade

A $2.8 million dollar redevelopment of the Angle Park Greyhound Track has been completed following four months of work at the venue in Adelaide’s north-west.

The track, which had remained largely unchanged since the 1970s, has been rebuilt in line with industry-commissioned research by the University of Technology Sydney with upgrades including the track’s foundations, drainage, lure system and kennel house flooring.

Dog races will return to the South Australian greyhound industry’s headquarters this week.

According to Greyhound Racing SA (GRSA), the industry contributes $58 million annually to South Australia’s economy and creates the equivalent of 500 full-time jobs.

GRSA Chief Executive Matthew Corby said the refurbishment would improve racing safety and animal welfare.

“Further to constructing the Murray Bridge dual-track facility in 2018, these current works at Angle Park will implement the learnings that have arisen from seven years of national research and data collection across the national framework,” he said.

“Track safety and greyhound welfare are our highest priorities at GRSA.”

The redeveloped track will host its first meet since April this Thursday following the relocation of events to Gawler and Murray Bridge during construction.

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