Wakamono, a Vietnam-based nanotechnology company that manufactures medical masks is in the market to raise $20 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The company has hired a Big Four advisory firm to facilitate the deal, and is in talks with potential investors, said the sources.
The potential investment is expected to support Wakamono’s plans to spin off its medical wear, food & agriculture, and cosmetic production businesses into separate entities, the sources added.
Currently focused on producing antimicrobial masks and medical protective wear, the company is looking to expand the application of its technology to cosmetics, and food & agriculture.
A Wakamono executive did not comment when contacted by DealStreetAsia.
Launched in March 2011, the company is 80% owned by its founder and chairman-cum-CEO Lai Nam Hai, according to its website.
The business is understood to have raised seed capital from the serial entrepreneur Phan Quoc Cong and his partners. Cong is currently a board member in Wakamono as well as Saigon Food, Zone Startups Accelerator, and Endeavor Vietnam.
Cong used to serve on the boards of Vietnam-based private equity firm Mekong Capital and its former portfolio companies Traphaco and Phu Nhuan Jewelry. In 2001, he had founded International Consumer Products, a personal care business that was backed by Mekong Capital and PENM Partners. The firm was then sold to Indian consumer goods giant Marico.
Nanotechnology to fight COVID-19
Wakamono has developed over 200 medical formulas and patents, according to its website.
Currently, its largest business is using bioactive nanoparticles to make personal protective equipment (PPE). The firm is known for its medical masks that international institutions such as the certification agency TUV SUD, Guandong Detection Center of Microbiology, and the Luxembourg-based laboratories group EUROFINS have endorsed.
Wakamono’s masks largely cater to the Vietnam market, but the company also exports to the US, Europe, and Asia. In 2021 it has so far exported 10 million masks to the US, Australia, New Zealand, and some European countries, a Vietnam trade ministry publication reported.
Amid the pandemic, the firm claimed it had reached its full capacity of 20 tonnes of antimicrobial non-woven fabrics per day and planned to enhance this to 50 tonnes per day, according to local media reports in May 2020.
In medical equipment manufacturing, Wakamono’s major competitors include the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, TNG Investment and Trading, Esquel Vietnam, Eurolink, Domesco, and Nam Dinh Garment that have production capacity ranging from 500,000 to over 3 million units per day.
Vietnam had more than 100 businesses making medical masks as of April 2020, according to government data.
Wakamono also conducts research on micelle and liposome nanoparticles, which have applications in the manufacturing of ingredients used in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and supplements.
Wakamono now hopes to extend the applications of its research to agriculture as well. “Nanomaterials application in agriculture is our future plan. We research to make new generation fertilisers with bio-nanotechnology or create nanoproducts… for disinfection of aquaculture ponds,” it says on its website.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for nanotechnology was estimated at $54. 2 billion in 2020. It is projected to reach $126.8 billion by 2027, according to Researchandmarkets.com. Nanomaterials alone is forecast to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% to reach $107.4 billion by 2027.