Biomanufacturing start-up aims to triple in size as it takes on laboratory space

Evolutor, a start-up pioneering a new approach to biomanufacturing, has moved to lab space at Sheffield Technology Parks (STP).

It marks a milestone in the company’s growth as it shifts from shared facilities at the University of Sheffield to a dedicated space that it can grow into at STP.

Founded by Joe Price, CEO, Professor Tuck Seng Wong, CTO, and Dr Kang Lan Tee, CSO, Evolutor is a spin-out from The University of Sheffield’s scientific research and innovation facilities.

The company aims to accelerate a “global bioindustrial revolution” with its microbe development platform, which digitise the evolution of microbes.

Evolutor’s work is principally focused on advanced biomaterials for industries such as textiles and plastic manufacturing, where it is developing new flexible materials, produced from waste through a process called precision fermentation.

The start-up is also exploring how its technology can reduce CO2 emissions of construction and other industrial materials by up to 80%.

After securing international commercial partners, Evolutor recently grew its team to four and plans to triple in size over the next year.

Price said: “We needed more room and a dedicated lab for ourselves fairly quickly. We looked at taking on more space at the university, however things weren’t moving fast enough in that process, so I looked elsewhere.

“Tom and his team have made it easy for us to come to STP and transform the space into a bespoke lab.

“Building something from scratch has created a real sense of ownership over the space, and the company.”

Pippa Sinclair, a former PhD student in Interdisciplinary Bioscience at the University of Oxford, has joined Price and the rest of the Evolutor team: Iwona Smaczyńka-de Rooij and Katrin Schwarz, after relocating to Sheffield.

She said: “When I was applying for jobs towards the end of my biochemistry PhD, most of the opportunities that I came across were based in either London, Cambridge or Oxford.

“However, since moving to Sheffield I have discovered a lively biotechnology scene in the North and it is a real privilege to be part of building an ecosystem here that, with appropriate support and investment, could rival the more established hubs in the golden triangle.”

Tom Wolfenden, CEO at STP, added: “Science-based companies like Evolutor are primarily working on processes and products that are tackling the global climate emergency.

“Whether it’s cutting carbon emissions in chemical manufacturing, or transforming industrial waste into useful products, this work is ground-breaking and we are extremely pleased that so much of it is now happening at STP.

“Joe and his team are a fantastic addition to our community. We pride ourselves on being agile and responsive, which meant that we could provide the right space for Evolutor in a time-sensitive situation that otherwise could have hindered their growth.”