The year that has passed since we listed on Euronext Growth stock exchange in Oslo has been a transitional year both for us and the economy in general with the pandemic, disrupted supply chains and the climate crisis. Transitional and also transformative, as the IPO took us to the next level in our journey to bring safer chemicals to the market on a large scale.
Circa is not a new company. We’ve been around for 16 years now and have already run five pilot plants in Australia. FC5, our fifth plant was built in Tasmania in conjunction with Norske Skog – our largest single shareholder and it continues to supply the market with Cyrene™ and Levoglucosenone (LGO). This plant is the largest producer of LGO in the world by a factor of 100.
This last year saw a big step forward in our scale-up with the selection of the site for our next plant and concrete steps towards commissioning the plant at the end of 2023.
The new plant is on the site of a coal-fired power plant in France. The coal plant has been decommissioned and the area is being developed into a site for renewable energy and renewable chemicals. It’s a great vision and we have been encouraged by the support we’ve received from the French government at all levels, not least the €8.2 million grant awarded by the ‘France Relance’ programme, part of France’s efforts to build back better from the pandemic.
Over the last year, we’ve seen our share price rise and fall and bounce around. As with any listed company, it’s important to stay focussed on the bigger picture, and on delivering in the medium term, irrespective of the daily fluctuations. Our vision remains clear – to replace harmful, fossil-based solvents on a large scale and to change chemistry for good. At Circa, we’ve always believed that building a sustainable business using abundant and renewable resources makes sense… business sense.
We are grateful to our investors and the analysts who have taken the time to understand what we do and why it’s so important in today’s world. Together, we have a lot of work to do to change the way products are made and the regulation that allows harmful products on the market. Politicians make promises and sometimes regulations, but it’s industry that has to push through the changes. Industry continues to have a major impact on the way our society develops.
This first year as a listed company has seen an increase in governance and reporting. Fortunately, we have been able to call upon the expertise and experience of our new Board and advisors and that has been very much appreciated. As a result, we have been able to keep a strong focus on moving the business forward and recruiting new staff to support our growth.
We’ve hired four extremely qualified people into senior positions – CFO Tone Leivestad, General Manager UK Sarah Hickingbottom, GM Sustainability and Marketing Amanda Keogh, and VP Product Development Marc Hein.
It’s remarkable that it’s been 10 years since the European Union’s first Bioeconomy Strategy. In those 10 years, the biomaterials sector has blossomed, in a large part because of European leadership, which has been picked up in many other countries – the US, Taiwan, Korea, China and Japan. We’ve shown what’s possible and are leading the way in solvents. Along with Government and industry COP26 commitments I am sure that the revision of the EU REACH chemicals legislation taking place at the moment will do even more to improve a regulatory framework that promotes safer, cleaner, more sustainable chemicals for the future. The world is demanding it.