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How hiring this man gave Brisbane company an instant $100m windfall


Battery materials firm Novonix has snared the services of one of the pioneers of lithium-ion batteries in a move that added as much $105 million to the company’s market value today.

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The Trevor St Baker-led company appointed Canadian Professor Jeff Dahn as its chief scientific advisor. Dahn is well known beyond academia and he has an existing research partnership with Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company Tesla.

In a 2017 Tedx talk, Dahn estimated that one in 10 electric cars on the road uses chemistry that came out of his lab.

His tie-up with Tesla dates back to 2016 when  formed an exclusive research partnership with the company “to develop lithium-ion batteries with longer lifetime, higher energy density and lower cost.”

The goal of the electric vehcile market is to develop the 1 million mile battery and in research papers released last year, Dahn said modelling and testing he had done found that such a battery was attainable.

Dahn’s links to Novonix go back several years. Novonix co-founder Chris Burns started Novonix Battery Technology Solutions in Nova Scotia, Canada, as a spin off from Dahn’s research. Burns also completed his PhD under Dahn’s supervision.

The two also worked together in 2016 when Burns was working at Tesla and Dahn started his research partnership with the company.

“We are extremely excited to have Prof Dahn join the Novonix team and become involved in our initiatives to develop and supply world-leading materials to the lithium-ion battery sector,” Burns said.

“I am personally pleased to have the opportunity to work together with Prof Dahn again as his insights, industry contacts and experience will be a huge asset for our business.”

Dahn said he was happy to be taking on the role because the Novonix team “was comprised of creative scientists  and engineers doing exciting and novel work.”

Novonix shares climbed 29 cents, or 19 per cent yesterday to $1.86. Its shares had done little in the past week until the announcement this morning. By the time the market closed, investors had moved to take some profit and it fell back to a rise of 24 cents for the day, or just under 16 per cent.

The last time Novonix was at this level was last year when the market was speculating that there would be closer ties between it and Tesla.

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