For this mid-year seminar ShareSoc moved location to the welcoming offices of Capita Asset Services in the heart of the City. Here we were made very welcome by the Capita staff and there was plenty of space in the seminar room for all attendees (hopefully not as a result of anyone going to the usual location). As ever Carmen provided an excellent buffet and there was plenty of scope after the presentations for getting in an extra question or two with some of the presenters! Another very worthwhile event with four companies on the menu:

Ceres Power

Ceres Power is an interesting, somewhat typical, AIM company in that it has spent rather a lot of time (>12 years) and money (>£100m) trying to make its one product (the Steel Cell fuel cell) commercial. In the early days, from 2004-12, there was a great deal of excitement associated with the company as it worked closely with British Gas. Unfortunately this approach, of designing and delivering units to end-users, failed in a big way and the company required a rescue fund-raising. That, however, is the past and now the team is focused on signing up big-name manufacturers as partners (across multiple geographies and market areas) and licensing their patented fuel-cell technology to them. The upside of the British Gas debacle is that a great deal of someone else's money was spent on discovering real-world issues with the design and new investors are in a good position to benefit from this experience.

Honda as it has just signed up to 2-years of joint-venture development with production of a commercial unit the desired result. This should then lead to licensing revenue and optimistically a chance for the company to hit break-even in three year's time. In the meantime the burn-rate stands at around £11m per annum and with not much more than this in the bank a fund-raising of £10-15m will be required towards the end of the year. So, pessimistically speaking, there's more dilution to come for existing holders and it's still unclear whether this fuel-cell will turn into a winner outside of the lab.

Mark Selby provided a compelling introduction to the energy supply market and convinced me that the future involves localised power-generation for homes/businesses and some form of range extension for vehicles. Speaking to him afterwards he was pretty clear that Ceres Power …

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