Lasers for the industrial, defence, display and scientific markets

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BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) CEO Jim Haden discusses the the company's progress in 2023.

Tim McGowen: We're talking with BluGlass (ASX:BLG) today. It's got a market cap of $85m. The company has been developing leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing technology and devices for more than a decade. The company is a global provider to the GaN photonics industries, delivering cutting-edge customer laser and LED development across the industrial, defence, display, and scientific markets. This morning we're joined again by Jim Haden, the CEO of BluGlass Limited. Welcome back, Jim.

Jim Haden: Hi, Tim. Thank you.

Tim McGowen: Now, you've had a busy couple of weeks since we last spoke. Firstly, congratulations on your appointment as the new CEO of BluGlass. You've taken on the role following a period of real transformation for the company. Can you tell us what the new role means?

Jim Haden: Yeah, absolutely. I would like to, you know, start with when I joined the company, you said we were in transition, and there was a key change, transforming from an R&D company to a production company that could actually deliver products. So, it was a little bit different along those lines. So, following several technical improvements throughout the first 18 months here, we were able to stepwise go through, developing the products, culminating in a release of our first product suite at Photonics West in January of this year in San Francisco. That generated quite a bit of excitement at the show, and we got orders for product, and have begun delivering for those products since the show. And it basically confirmed or affirmed the strategy and the fact that we have the right team in place to become a producer of lasers in this really exciting GaN market that's growing faster than the overall laser market. So, as CEO, I will continue to drive those types of changes. First, growing our revenue and profitability. We will be, you know, leveraging what we've already done to extend to more product and offering. Also, then, what we will do with that is provide more value for our shareholders, for our customers and for our staff.

Tim McGowen: And, of course, you've just recently completed a successful placement. You raised just over $10m to both sophisticated investors and institutional investors, albeit in a very difficult market, so congratulations. Can you tell us what the funds will be used for?

Jim Haden: First and foremost, I can go back to what I said — you know, it was important for me to do as CEO — is to build our products and grow revenue. So, basically, this will help us to create a steady flow of products to market, so grow revenue and sustain that revenue. It will also give us the ability to extend our product portfolio and continue to bring in the top talent in the industry.

Tim McGowen: And, Jim, given your new semiconductor facility is in Silicon Valley, does BluGlass have any exposure to the Silicon Valley Bank collapse?

Jim Haden: Fortunately, for us, the only commonality is that we're in Silicon Valley. We didn't have any exposure. None of our funds were in Silicon Valley Bank.

Tim McGowen: And, Jim, of course, the semiconductor industry in the US, where BluGlass is positioned, has had a lot of political support recently. There's a real focus on having manufacturing within the US, rather than being outsourced to China, for example. Where does BluGlass sit in that equation?

Jim Haden: That's a good question, Tim. There is excitement in this market, in the overall semiconductor series, but even more specifically in what you could do in what they call high-bandgap. We're well positioned to be a key player in the US government market.

Tim McGowen: And, Jim, of course, you've also got a rights issue that's open to existing shareholders, and they're going to potentially participate on the same terms as the institutional wholesale placement. Why should investors participate, and when does it close?

Jim Haden: First, it closes in just a few days, on 3 April. So, the time to move is now. And why move now? Well, as I referred to earlier, we've launched products that have excited our customers, and we are already getting and fulfilling orders to those customers. We're going to continue to grow, and we are in a market that is… The visible laser market is growing faster than the general laser market. And we are well positioned to be a premier player in that market.

Tim McGowen: And, Jim, you've had a big start to the year, and obviously with this deadline on the rights issue, what can BluGlass investors look forward to for the rest of the year?

Jim Haden: We are going to continue to provide the products that we've already introduced to the market. And, within those first deliveries, our customers will be qualifying our products in the products that they will be selling. And then we will be introducing new products. We have already shown improved performance, and that those will lead to new products in the middle to the end of this year. Those will be introduced into the market and generate more interest. And then, basically, with that, we'll continue to work with our partners at UCSB, and we will and are positioning ourselves as a premier player in this visible laser market.

Tim McGowen: Jim Haden, thanks for your time.

Jim Haden: Thank you, Tim.

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