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Plasma Science Engineered Air Sanitisers To Kill The COVID-19 Virus. Here’s How It’s Expanding Into Other Industries.

He’s planning to put Singapore’s technology on the world map.

Samuel Teh, Plasma Science CEO and Co-Founder

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The success of Plasma Science can be attributed to the creative innovation and business acumen of Co-Founder and CEO, Samuel Teh. As a serial entrepreneur managing five other businesses in multiple industries, Samuel was working on an air-purifying technology to extend the shelf-life of perishable foods.

During the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Samuel discovered an opportunity to pivot this technology into an air sanitiser to kill the virus.

Collaborating with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), they tested the effectiveness of the technology, and learned that they were able to eliminate 99.8% of COVID-19 viruses – whether airborne or on surfaces – within 15 minutes.

Innovation Beyond Pandemic Demand For New Growth

The clock was on from then. Samuel roped in two co-founders – A*STAR scientists Davy Cheong and Ivan Tan – and raced to bring their product to market.

Riding the pandemic demand, Plasma Science quickly found success. The business became profitable from the get-go and even won recognition by clinching the Emerging Enterprise Award in 2022.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Samuel turned his focus to developing new products and scaling growth into the European and U.S. markets at the CES 2024 in Las Vegas.

We caught up with Samuel to learn more about Plasma Science’s business and technology and how it is navigating an important intersection – where pandemic demand has dwindled, and the team must refresh its products for different sectors and geographies.

Dinesh: Let’s start at the beginning of your collaboration with A*STAR. How did this partnership come about?

Samuel: The A*STAR collaboration started with a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA), and we rigorously tested the technology. Having fine-tuned this technology, Plasma Science licenses it from A*STAR today.

A*STAR also encourages scientists to explore new technologies and entrepreneurship. That’s how I found my co-founders, Davy and Ivan, who are both A*STAR scientists.

Dinesh: Having minority shareholders can make it trickier running a business. How is the workload and decision-making divided between the co-founders at Plasma Science?

Samuel: The founding team plays different roles and we respect each other’s expertise.

As scientists on the team, my co-founders are involved in engineering the technology to ready it for commercial deployment and R&D – particularly to make our filters reusable and washable at the start.

With my experience in several other businesses, my responsibility is primarily to connect with the right suppliers and manufacturers in the region and in Europe, as well as open sales channels.

Dinesh: When you first started Plasma Science, COVID-19 was still spreading fast. A high-tech and effective solution to kill viruses and bacteria was very relevant.

How did you manage the initial demand as a new start-up with no inventory?

Samuel: We had to work fast. We started with compact products, the Trident Air PLUS and Trident Air Mini models. They were easy to deploy – just plug-and-play solutions – and were able to protect occupants in small environments like an office room from the COVID-19 virus.

Trident Air Purifiers - Trident Air Mini and Trident Air Plus

Trident Air by Plasma Science

(Product: Trident Air Mini 2 and Trident Air PLUS)

Although the threat of COVID-19 is lower today, we still see sales spikes when new variants are spreading.

Our technology is not only for the COVID-19 virus but has also been tested against other viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungus. This positions us to prevent Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), pneumonia, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), and more.

The effectiveness of our technology against PM2.5 haze particles also stands out. This sets us apart from competitors and is why we are confident enough to re-design our air sanitisers for other environments.

We just launched a new product, Trident Hunter, which is very effective and portable. It’s useful for those who spend long hours in small spaces such as hotel rooms and planes, especially travellers, or cars, such as drivers.

Trident Air Hunter

Trident Air by Plasma Science

(Product: Trident Hunter)

Another exciting development in our pipeline is a commercial series that we are working on. This model can be installed within centralised air conditioning for office buildings, hotels, or hospitals, and schools – on a much larger scale.

We are also developing a product for the agriculture sector. This goes back to our original idea to help indoor farmers grow their crops faster, achieve higher yields, and extend the shelf life of perishable foods.

Dinesh: Plasma Science’s growth plans are underpinned by your focus on R&D and new product development – which can be expensive.

How do you finance your operational expansion?

Samuel: Plasma Science started with a personal investment of $200,000. There were a few investors who subsequently joined us. The business enjoyed a head start as I was able to support the initial traction with the other businesses I also run.

Currently, our manufacturing is based in Singapore. We also discussed new products in the pipeline. To scale up operations and bring down production costs, we are looking at a bigger manufacturing operation overseas.

We will need the help of both existing and new investors to achieve this. The investors can see our track record, even in a short period of time. We have grown quite healthily, tripling revenue since our first year.

Operationally, we have also delivered on our targets – recently showcasing our new and innovative products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 2024. This will hopefully give us a springboard to expand into Europe and the U.S, while building upon a renewed base of interested customers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

To achieve all of this, we will also continue to rely on OCBC as our key banking partner. They have furnished financing facilities to support Plasma Science’s growth, including an SME Working Capital Loan to kickstart scaling our production facilities overseas.

Gearing Up For Growth In Health-Tech

While pandemic-led market demand may have slowed down, Plasma Science has shown no signs of following suit.

In just its second year, Samuel shared that Plasma Science was able to triple its revenue. This is not only a testament to the effectiveness of their technology but also the team’s ability to scale.

Their dedication to continuous R&D also means redesigning the technology and/or air sanitiser product for different use cases. Already in the works are plans for new product launches. This will hinge on larger production facilities outside of Singapore.

To achieve their aspiring growth plans, Samuel is keenly aware that he will need even more investment and financing support. He was able to discuss both his growth plans and operating plans with a dedicated OCBC relationship manager – the same one overseeing all of his business ventures.

As a serial entrepreneur, having one person know and understand all his six businesses gives Samuel the peace of mind that any advice he gets will take into consideration his growing business empire – rather than just one part of it.  He doesn’t have to run to different relationship managers for different financing needs either.

With Plasma Science, he is starting to scale up his overseas production facilities. With its manufacturing capacity set to grow and in better control of costs, Samuel now has a crystal-clear object: to deliver on new sales opportunities in the region and plan for global expansion in Europe and the U.S.

Need Financing Support During This Period?

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