Oxford University bioscience spinout secures £385K UK Innovation funding


Oxford University bioscience spinout  HydRegen, which enables sustainable chemical manufacturing using its proprietary enzyme based redox platform, has received £385,000 in new funding from the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), alongside private investors, to work in collaboration with pharmaceutical and fine chemical companies that want to reduce their costs and environmental impact.

Development of greener and less wasteful processes is now a priority for many companies who are under increasing regulatory, policy and financial pressures to improve their sustainability. HydRegen says it is addressing unmet needs in the chemical sector, most specifically around the challenges associated with redox reactions*, their waste generation and use of toxic metals.

* Redox reactions are a type of chemical reaction characterised by the transfer of electrons between chemical substances. Redox (reduction-oxidisation) is the gain of electrons, or decrease in the oxidation state, of a chemical substance.

The newly raised funds will enable HydRegen to invest in the people and resources required to develop and scale up its platform and subsequent implementation into new chemical processes. HydRegen will work alongside the Northern Ireland based pharmaceutical and chemical company Almac Sciences, part of the Almac Group, to evaluate a joint technology development project for large-scale manufacture of a commodity chemical. The project will use enzyme technologies from both companies, in a multi-enzyme system, to develop a low-cost manufacturing process, producing cost effective green alternatives to commodities.

Since spinning out from the University of Oxford just last year, HydRegen has focused on implementation of its new strategies for reducing the environmental impact of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing, by switching the power source for biocatalysis from glucose to hydrogen gas. With a vision to replace finite resources, like metals, with environmentally and economically sustainable alternatives, HydRegen believes it must focus on lowering the barrier to entry for evaluation and scale up of redox bioprocesses. This is something that governments around the world are also pushing for as they encourage energy intensive businesses to share expertise and come up with radical new innovations to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Contributing £300,000, UKI2S is a national seed investment fund that nurtures innovative businesses, providing the patient, long-term committed capital and strategic advice they need to flourish.

Dr Holly Reeve, CEO at HydRegen said: “This additional funding provides us with a huge opportunity to work with world leading speciality chemical companies on scaling up the production of our biocatalysts and ultimately, licensing our technology across a wide range of applications. This research and testing could help HydRegen to become part of the ‘advanced manufacturing tool-box’ across the chemical industry.”

Prof. Tom Moody, VP Technology Development and Commercialisation at Almac, added: “We look forward to working with HydRegen towards the implementation of a sustainable multi-enzyme system for the manufacture of a commodity chemical and demonstration of the process at scale.”

Andy Muir, Investment Director at UKI2S, added: “Backing companies with sustainability at their core is a major priority that will help shape the economy and human lives in a positive way. We are delighted to support HydRegen’s innovative platform that aims to catalyse the much-needed transition to net-zero chemical manufacturing and improve the pharmaceutical industry’s impact on the environment.”