Driving Sustainable Innovation through Technology and Knowledge Transfer: Academic Entrepreneurship
As a director at the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) spin-out company, Green Lizard Technologies Ltd. (GLT), and a (non-exec) director of Ionic Technologies (former start-up company Seren Technologies) I have a keen interest in the practical application and commercialization of research innovations in the clean energy and green chemistry sectors. My prior belief was that academic research and entrepreneurship were incompatible paths. However, my involvement in various industrial projects, such as the mercury removal from natural gas, has reshaped my perspective. I now firmly believe that application-oriented thinking can inspire academic research, creating a positive feedback loop that enhances educational pursuits as well.
Pilot plants for scale-up (Green Lizard Technologies Ltd).
At Green Lizard Technologies Ltd. (GLT), we work towards uncovering new applications, scaling up processes, and eventually commercializing innovations in areas such as energy storage, vegetable oil refinement, waste valorisation, and plastics recycling, among others. We believe that our work stands at the intersection of research and application, bridging the gap between academic insights and practical, real-world solutions.
Our research on rare earth metal separation has led to the formation of start-up company Seren Technologies (founded in 2016), which was then acquired in 2022 by Ionic Rare Earths Limited, becoming Ionic Technologies. The technology originally developed at our QUB laboratories efficiently separates the metals using ionic liquid technology. This process returns magnets to the same lifespan and efficiency as new magnets. However, recycling is also energy-intensive and produces waste, which is why new sustainable technologies are essential. Ionic Technologies is currently transitioning from pilot-scale recycling of kilograms of magnets to an industrial scale of multiple tonnes.