The Italian company is the only one in the world to use only physical and non-chemical processes and therefore to guarantee a sustainable product and one of the largest producers of graphene. A start-up that was born in Como and on the shore of the lake still retains its main headquarters. But to find the resources to grow and develop its projects, in 2016 it landed in London and was listed on the AIM market. Directa Plus is the classic example of a company that a country that truly seeks to focus on innovation to catch the revival train should absolutely value and protect. The world of graphene is a fascinating one, a new technology that will be strategic for the future. Having an Italian company among the global champions of the sector is an advantage that must be maintained and can bring added value to many other manufacturing companies. The nanotechnologies currently used in the Lomazzo (Como) plants make this material extremely versatile. It is successfully used in textiles, asphalt for roads, water purification, and in masks, thanks to its antimicrobial qualities. Experiments are underway for use in
lithium-sulphur batteries, as well as for many other uses. Directa Plus’s graphene production process is among the most innovative, protected by no less than 65 patents: it is the only company in the world to use only physical and non-chemical processes.
This, in addition to guaranteeing a better product, guarantees its sustainability. The most recent bet of Directa Plus, founded by Giulio Cesareo, who is also its CEO, is the use of graphene to produce shoes. The Como company has reached an agreement with the Norda group to integrate its graphene membrane “G+” in the multifunctional shoe “Norda 001”. The membrane guarantees thermal efficiency, lightness and antibacterial effects. It is the first time that a graphene membrane has been integrated into a shoe, a fact that allows the shoe to be presented as one of the most innovative products at the ISPO Munich in January 2022, the largest international sports goods fair. “A new opportunity is opening up in an important market,” says Cesareo. “This product is a further demonstration of how the most innovative technologies can be used immediately in our lives”. The perhaps most fascinating project Directa Plus is working on involves electric batteries. Graphene combined with sulfur to replace rare earths in lithium-ion batteries. The company is working on it together with the American company NexTech. The goal is to create a battery that costs half as much as the lithium-ion battery and can provide a density of energy, that is, energy with respect to weight, five times greater. This means that a car
could travel for about a thousand kilometres. Not only that: unlike lithium batteries, those with graphene do not run any risk of catching fire. After the listing on the AIM in London (where it has grown by 60% since the beginning of the year, reaching 83 million pounds sterling), Directa Plus closed the first half with 4.56 million in revenues (+41%). A limited amount, it’s true, compared to big hi-tech. But the potential for growth is enormous. So much so that it has attracted the attention of investors. The first shareholder became Patrick Soon-Shiong, the American billionaire who recently bought the Los Angeles Times for $500 million. A doctor, scientist and biotechnology expert, Soon-Shiong became the majority shareholder of Directa Plus, acquiring 18.95% of the shares two years ago. In 68th place in the last ranking Forbes 400, Soon-Shiong, is a mix of ethnicities: born in South Africa, of Chinese origin, American by adoption: in addition to inventing a highly successful drug for the treatment of some types of cancer, Abraxaneha, he has built his fortune by creating and selling companies in the biotech sector. Founder and owner of NantWorks, a network of hi-tech and biotech companies listed on Nasdaq, in addition to the Los Angeles Times he owns other publications and is among the owners of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Hunters for good business deals like Soon-Shiong
have a nose for it, as well as a lot of consultants, and they also keep an eye on our country, where start-ups and young and innovative companies struggle to find the capital to grow. The risk, not so far off from reality, is that Italy will end up being impoverished by losing them.