A university spin-out technology company has chosen Teesside’s Wilton Centre as its production development base, with an initial £6m investment, creating four new full-time jobs.
Green Lizard Technologies Limited, a spin-out from Queen's University Belfast, has acquired pilot plant, office and laboratory space at the Wilton Centre to test manufacture Epoxy Propanol (EP), also known as Glycidol, which can be used to create greener, cleaner and safer surfactants (for use in detergents and soaps), as well as industrial paints and coatings and speciality chemicals.
The Wilton Centre will house Europe’s first production plant for EP. At present, it is primarily manufactured in Japan, with a small amount produced in the US. Should the pilot production plant prove successful, Green Lizard and its development partners will invest some $25m (£17 m) in a full scale production plant at Wilton, employing more than 30 people. This could open as early as 2021.
Green Lizard chose the Wilton Centre for its pilot plant and development centre for a combination of on-site facilities and partner organisations, and Teesside’s available skilled workforce.
Professor Martin Atkins, Green Lizard CEO and chair of chemical innovation & sustainability at Queen’s University Belfast says: “The Wilton Centre was recommended to us by the Knowledge Transfer Network and it is fantastic. In fact, there is no better place in the UK. The facilities are already here to run a test production plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with experienced workers.
“There is room for us to expand on site, and to a potential full production plant on the Wilton International site next door, and there are many like-minded people and companies based on-site or just down the road, with whom we are already working very closely to develop new, safer, greener coatings, surfactants and fuels.
“We are also in talks with a number of international companies, including a consortium from China, which are very interested in using our technology in their manufacturing processes. At present, we are just scratching the surface of the possibilities for our new technologies.”
Steve Duffield, site director at the Wilton Centre says: “Green Lizard is the fourth university technology company which has chosen to base its production development work at the Wilton Centre, and the third from outside the North East of England. We have all the infrastructure, facilities and supporting expertise in place to allow them to focus on their task of scaling their production processes, rather than dealing with a mountain of red tape before they can even get going.”
Stephen Brown, Senior Partner at Dodds Brown is the letting agent for the office space at the Wilton Centre. He says: “All the occupiers at the Wilton Centre benefit from on-site clustering and the presence of organisations such as NEPIC (North East of England Process Industry Cluster) and CPI (Centre for Process Innovation) to encourage and advise on partnership working and technology and process development.”