By Nick Smith, Head of Development and Commercialisation
It was a love of science that led me to study chemistry and the fascination of seeing science applied to human needs that led me to the chemical industry where I worked for more than 25 years before joining Circa in January 2023.
In my time at Bayer, whose polymers unit later became Covestro, I had the opportunity to work all over the world in a number of different commercial and corporate roles.
My work out of China with a textiles industry which was embarking on its sustainability journey, and my later involvement in the company’s circular economy program had a real impact on me in terms of where I wanted my work focus to be.
In this respect, Circa’s ambition to become a key player in a more sustainable chemical industry by converting non-food biomass – the most abundant renewable polymer on earth – into valuable chemicals got me really excited.
I thrive on change and challenge and so the opportunity to bring my two decades of global experience in a large chemical company to help build up an early-stage sustainable chemicals company is a real thrill.
The urgency to act on climate puts companies with scalable renewable technology in a key position. Circa is scaling a renewable alternative to widely-used toxic fossil-based solvents – we are changing chemistry for good and working with those who share that ambition.
Part of my role is making sure that the volumes of our bio-based solvent Cyrene™ from ReSolute and our future FC6 plant are sold so my team and I have already started working together with key partners on offtake commitments and capacity reservations.
I already have a strong sense that the market is excited about our products and we’ve just signed a distribution agreement with OQEMA for significant volumes of Cyrene™ over the years to come.
As well as the commercialisation part of the role, I’ll be providing direction and market-focused input into Circa’s strategic development, especially around where we focus in terms of new product and application markets.
The solvent sector has been underinvested in for a long time. It’s time for change and Circa is not only offering more sustainable alternatives with Cyrene™ and other levoglucosenone (LGO) derivatives but crucially also new performance and possibilities across a diverse range of applications due to the uniqueness of this new technology.
I’m convinced about the added value Circa brings to the market and the potential we have to move into other sectors as the bioeconomy develops further. I’m excited about partnering with market players who are willing to be bold with us and be part of the step change in how the chemical industry works.