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28.02.2019 BLOG

Bridging the innovation gap between academia and industry

The Teesside-based chemicals company Green Lizard Technologies serves as a gateway between academia and industry, working alongside universities to develop scientific and technological innovations into sustainable solutions to commercial challenges.

 Green Lizard Technologies (GLT) – a spin-out company from Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering – began life in Belfast in 2015, taking innovative green chemistry technologies and developing them into commercial ventures. Just two years later, GLT made the move to the Wilton Centre when a large plant, already equipped with many essential facilities, came up for a quick sale at a fraction of its cost due to a company takeover. Professor Martin Atkins, CEO of GLT, told why the move was a step worth taking: “This was a combination of fortuitous timing and a fantastic opportunity to position GLT in the hub of chemical industry leaders in the UK. It meant expanding our operations four years earlier than originally planned, but the space only needed a quick and easy retrofit, and everything else was on site; it really was quite an easy decision to make. Now that all the modifications are complete and commissioned, we’re generating products in semi-commercial quantities, and have significantly sped up our development processes. We’ve already been able to successfully recruit local people to key roles within the company; the pool of skills we can tap into in this region is tremendous, for example, a recently-advertised technician job had 150 applicants. We’re confident that we’ll also be able to attract high calibre candidates to the region because of the North East’s beautiful coastline, great schools, and fantastic cities like York, Durham and Newcastle not far away.”

GLT maintains close links with academia and operating out of Teesside has also opened up new opportunities to work with other UK-based chemical companies in the area. Martin explained: “We continue to fund research at Queen’s University Belfast and work closely with academics at Dalian University, China, and Arizona State and Georgia Tech in the US. We also have a plethora of projects happening now with local companies. Just looking at Teesside alone, there are many possibilities for further collaboration; it is plain to see why this region is the nerve centre of the UK chemical industry.”