Materials tech startup Xefco launches joint venture to produce Covid-killing face masks

- September 23, 2021 2 MIN READ
Robin Levison
PPK executive chair Robin Levison. Photo: Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch
Sydney-based materials technology company Xefco is launching a joint venture company to produce revolutionary face masks with the ability to kill the Covid-19 virus within minutes.

Xefco developed masks coated in an ultra-thin layer of copper in a collaboration with Deakin University. Studies by the Doherty Institute found that the patent-pending technology has the ability to inactivate bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus, within 5 minutes. The coating does not change the feel, breathability or weight of the mask.

The new company, ‘Survivon Ltd’, is a JV with ASX-listed PPK, which has acquired a factory on the Gold Coast with the capacity to produce around five million masks a month.

The masks will be distributed in the Australian market first and then in Europe and other territories.

Xefco CEO and co-founder Tom Hussey, said the rapid efficacy of the coating, called MetalliX, is unprecedented.

“MetalliX destroys the virus within minutes whereas other existing treatments can take hours. We are incredibly excited to see the first use of the MetalliX technology in real-world applications that will help fight against this devastating virus where minutes actually count,” he said.

“MetalliX can be applied to a broad range of materials including those that are difficult to treat using conventional finishing methods, unlocking new possibilities for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical textiles and air filtration aiding in the defence against COVID-19.

“Mask production is just the start – we hope to roll out the coating treatment onto other critical materials such as surgical gowns, drapes and curtains as well as air filters in hotels, planes and restaurants.”


Pandemic pivot

Xefco, founded in 2018, specialises in innovative coating technologies for the textile industry. It was working with fashion and outdoor apparel markets before seeing a new opportunity as the coronavirus pandemic hit to develop antimicrobial treatments, collaborating with Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials.

The Doherty Institute tested MetalliX-treated textiles to known infectious concentrations of the Covid-19 for incremental periods of time. The results found the treated textiles deactivated the virus by 97.79% within five minutes and 99.95% within 15 minutes with no infectious virus detectable on the textiles after 30 minutes.

The Survivon joint venture will see PPK contribute $4.5 million in cash as working capital, including for the purchase of the Brisbane mask factory, with Xefco assigning IP to the company and managing R&D on new products. PPK will transfer its ownership of the Mask Innovation business it acquired last month, at a $1.6 million valuation, to Survivon.

Survivon will have a separate management team, led by CEO Matthew Bailey, with a four director board – two each from PPK and Xefco.

PPK Executive Chairman Robin Levison said the company was always on the look-out for new opportunities to back breakthrough technologies, particularly in the nanotechnology space.

“The chance to combine the manufacturing assets of PPK’s Mask Innovation business with leading science developed by Xefco in conjunction with Deakin University represents a tremendous commercialisation opportunity with global application,” he said.

“It is also an incredibly timely one and yields a likelihood of making a very practical and immediate difference in combating one of the great healthcare issues of our time.”


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