US venture capital group backs Daresbury eco-maker with $ 7 million investment

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Richard Lock, managing director of Holiferm, said the company “is trying to redefine what it means to manufacture chemicals”

A Sci-Tech Daresbury-based biotech firm is looking to expand after closing a deal for around £ 5.1million in investment from the United States.

Holiferm creates environmentally friendly ‘biosurfactants’, an alternative to controversial petrochemicals and tropical oil products in detergents and toiletries.

The funding, US $ 7 million, is expected to be used to finance the construction of an environmentally friendly production plant in Wallasey on the Wirral with 30 jobs to be created and an annual production capacity of 1,100 tonnes of biosurfactants. .

When Holiferm, which started as a spin-off from the University of Manchester, launched its pilot plant at Sci-Tech Daresbury earlier this year, its workforce was seven, but has now grown to 16.

The latest round of investment was led by US venture capital firm Rhapsody Ventures.

A spokesperson for Sci-Tech Daresbury said the funding shows confidence in Holiferm and represents an entry into US chemical markets.

The company also plans to launch two new products in the near future.

Holiferm’s biosurfactants are presented as an ecological alternative to products derived from petrochemicals and tropical oils.

Richard Lock, Managing Director of Holiferm, said: “We are trying to redefine what it means to manufacture chemicals.

“There is a big misconception that it has to involve huge power plants and industrial plants, but we are using a totally green process.

“We are working with a molecule that was not designed by humans, but by nature.

“This fundraising is another milestone in our quest to bring biosurfactants to the mass market.

“The Rhapsody Venture partners have so much experience and they match our drive and commitment to this business, so we are delighted to be working with them. “

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City area, said: ‘When I launched my £ 75million business growth program in 2019, it was to try to attract new and innovative companies and expanding as Holiferm in our urban area.

“I didn’t want us to rest on our laurels – at the time, we were the fastest growing region in the country – but to keep pushing to do better.

“We have continued this support throughout the pandemic.

“I am proud that the local leaders and I have done all we can to protect jobs and businesses, while trying to create new ones and attract new investment.

“As we can see with the expansion of Holiferm in our region, this is an approach that has really paid off.

Inside the Sci-Tech Daresbury pilot plant.

“And of course tackling climate change is a top priority for us – something we will be presenting at COP26 in Glasgow.

“We want our local economy to be built on fantastic and innovative businesses that invest in local people and help us achieve our ambitious net zero goals.”

Jason Whaley, Managing Partner of Rhapsody Venture Partners, said: “Holiferm’s technology enables, for the first time, the production of clean, natural cleaning ingredients on a scale that makes them widely available to all consumers.

“At Rhapsody, we are excited about this potential and grateful for the opportunity to support the scale-up and manufacture of these products and to advance the biochemical industry in general. “

Peter van Gelderen, general partner of co-investor Icos Capital, said: “We are very pleased with the rapid progress that Holiferm has made from a leading technology company in 2019 to a biosurfactant production company in 2021.

“They are already selling products and are now ready to grow and sell to chemical and FMGC companies around the world who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and switching to bio-based ingredients for a wide range of applications. “

John Downes, CEO of Langtree and Chairman of Sci-Tech Daresbury, said: “We were very proud to welcome Holiferm earlier this year to our growing group of materials companies on campus, and this recent fundraiser is a testament to revolutionary work is undertaking.

“The connections he has been able to capitalize on are the result of our world-class scientific facilities and collaborative culture have been crucial to this final stage of his development, and we look forward to supporting Richard and his team in the next stage of the process. Holiferm trip. . “

Holiferm’s presence at Sci-Tech Daresbury, based near Runcorn, Cheshire, was supported by a £ 400,000 grant from the Inward Investment Facilitation Fund (I2F2) set up as part of the 75 million Business Growth Package. from £ presented by Mr. Rotheram.


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