£220,000 finance boost for LyraChem

A NORTH EAST chemical company is set to grow its sales and marketing activities thanks to a £220,000 shot in the arm.

L-r: Cally Foreman, Gordon Jamieson, Alex Buchan and Carl Thirsk

A NORTH EAST chemical company is set to grow its sales and marketing activities thanks to a £220,000 shot in the arm.

Durham University spinout business LyraChem has moved out of university premises into larger city centre offices after receiving investment from venture capital firm, Northstar Ventures.

The financial boost has come at a time when the business is successfully securing work from leading chemical companies in Europe, Asia and the United States.

LyraChem was founded in 2008 by chief executive Carl Thirsk and Newcastle University’s Allen Wright through a collaboration between the schools of chemistry and chemical engineering at Durham and Newcastle universities.

In 2010, it received funding from the Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept (POC) Fund – enabling the company to break into the European chemical market.

It has now received a second round of investment from The Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund and further investment from the POC fund, both of which are managed by Northstar.

LyraChem’s specialist team works with computer software to help its clients improve their drug and chemical making processes while also developing its own competitive edge.

Thirsk said: “We use a multidisciplinary workflow to fully characterise the client’s target process in chemical, physical and chemical engineering terms. We capture this knowledge in the form of models, and then use our software to develop strategies very quickly to improve the process.

“We can accurately predict in a computer environment how changing process parameters will affect plant performance and hence process economics, saving clients time and raw material costs.

“We work closely with them from early-stage lab processes to implemented plant solutions and have delivered some impressive results, doubling production capacities and yields as well as reducing waste.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve had a terrific response from companies across continental Europe and have recently started doing business in Asia and the US. The funding from Northstar will allow us to further develop our capability and grow to meet market demand.”

Alex Buchan, from Northstar Ventures, added: “LyraChem has an impressive value proposition for the chemical industry with the ability to radically improve the economics of chemical processes with relatively low investment.

“The development of the software will enable them to scale the business in way that has not been possible before now.”

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