AN £8.5m shares offer will help a technology firm create new jobs and bolster work on a radical material, bosses have told The Northern Echo.

Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) says it expects to increase staff numbers to press on with expansion plans.

The company, based at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar, makes graphene, which is acclaimed by experts for its toughness and ability to conduct electricity.

Earlier this week, AGM announced a deal with paint supplier, James Briggs Limited, which is expected to see the operator use graphene in anti-corrosion primers.

The company, which employs about 40 people, is already supporting Sherwin-Williams Protective and Marine Coatings and corrosion management operation TWI Limited, and bosses told The Northern Echo James Briggs’ arrival will be followed by similar deals.

They added talks now underway with companies, revealing new staff will be needed to support the ventures.

The business, which previously raised £11m from an Alternative Investment Market flotation, says its expansion plans have been helped by a further £8.5m shares offer, with around £1m spent this year to help product development.

Jon Mabbitt, chief executive, said its financial planning, coupled with industry-approved studies reiterating its graphene claims around corrosion protection, put the firm in a strong position.

He said: “Some of the additives historically used to help with barrier protection, such as chromate, are being actively removed.

“That is a stimulus that makes companies think about what they can use and opens doors for us.

“James Briggs is an excellent company but we have other engagements we hope will lead to more results in the not too distant future.

“We will need people for business development and sales and technical people; it will be across the board.

“We are cracking on with Sherwin and TWI; Sherwin are the largest paint maker globally, so we feel we have a got an exciting development partner.”

Oliver Lightowlers, chief financial officer, added: “When we first placed, we probably had nine or ten people.

“We are now looking to bring in more in technical areas who can work with customers as we develop the product into real-world applications.

“The £8m placing was very helpful.”

Graphene’s qualities have conjured up numerous colourful images from experts and analysts, including how a sheet the thickness of cling-film would take the weight of an elephant balanced on a pencil.

However, Mr Mabbitt said AGM’s focus has been much more serious, with thousands of hours of work carried out to prove its capacity in paints and coatings, polymers and oils and lubricants.

He added: “Across the world I would estimate there are between 30 and 50 graphene makers of the material.

“But there is a much larger amount of customers who are interested in taking the material and applying it to products.

“Some of them are more about what can be done with graphene, rather than graphene being the best solution.

“We are going into a growth phase; what we are trying to do is focus on the products where there is a true commercial benefit and it is a viable, long-term proposition.”