Biomanufacturing startup prepares for growth, taking on bespoke labspace at Sheffield Technology Parks

Biomanufacturing startup prepares for growth, taking on bespoke labspace at Sheffield Technology Parks

Evolutor, a startup pioneering a new approach to biomanufacturing, has moved to a bespoke lab space at Sheffield Technology Parks (STP).

This move marks a significant milestone in the company's growth as it shifts from shared facilities at the University of Sheffield to a dedicated space that it can grow into at STP.

Founded by Joe Price, CEO, Professor Tuck Seng Wong, CTO, and Dr. Kang Lan Tee, CSO, Evolutor is a spin-out company from The University of Sheffield’s world-class scientific research and innovation facilities.

The company is driven to accelerate a ‘global bioindustrial revolution’ with their unique microbe development platform, which digitises the evolution of microbes.

Evolutor’s work is principally focused on advanced biomaterials for industries such as textiles and plastic manufacturing, where they are developing new highly functionalized flexible materials, produced from waste through a process called ‘precision fermentation’. The startup is also exploring how their groundbreaking technology could reduce CO2 emissions of construction and other industrial materials by up to 80%. 

After securing a number of international commercial partners, Evolutor recently grew its team to four and plans to triple in size over the next year, expediting the company’s need for dedicated lab space.

Joe explains,

"We needed more room and a dedicated lab for ourselves fairly quickly. We looked at taking on more space at the University, however things weren’t moving fast enough in that process, so I looked elsewhere. Tom and his team have made it easy for us to come to STP and transform the space into a bespoke lab.”

The move has helped to build the company’s identity and it has given Joe a fresh perspective. He comments,

“Building something from scratch has created a real sense of ownership over the space, and the company. This has transformed my mindset; whilst spinning-out but physically remaining at the uni we still felt like a quasi-academic group, whereas now we feel like the true start-up that we are, building our own vision and culture and doing something unique and exciting.”

Pippa Sinclair, a former PhD student in Interdisciplinary Bioscience at the University of Oxford, has joined Joe and the rest of the Evolutor team: Iwona Smaczyńka-de Rooij and Katrin Schwarz, after relocating to Sheffield to take up the opportunity. 

Whilst there were many more employment opportunities around London, Cambridge and Oxford - known as the ‘golden triangle’ - Pippa was attracted to the prospect of being involved in something that is on the cusp of a breakthrough. She comments,

“I knew that this was the right job for me when I met Joe and the team and heard about the amazing science that Evolutor is working on. When I was applying for jobs towards the end of my biochemistry PhD, most of the opportunities that I came across were based in either London, Cambridge or Oxford. However, since moving to Sheffield I have discovered a lively biotechnology scene in the North and it is a real privilege to be part of building an ecosystem here that, with appropriate support and investment, could rival the more established hubs in the golden triangle.” 

Pippa also expressed enthusiasm about the move to STP, saying:

“STP is a very vibrant space and it has a real community feel. I enjoy being surrounded by other companies that aren’t doing the same thing as Evolutor because it is interesting to hear about what other people are working on and you can learn a lot from people working in totally different fields of technology.”

Evolutor joins a number of companies based at Sheffield Technology Parks that work in scientific fields such as biotech, ecochemistry and quantum computing. Tom Wolfenden, our CEO, has noticed an increase in requests for lab space and is keen to continue adapting spaces at STP to home these innovative companies. He remarks,

“Science-based companies like Evolutor are primarily working on processes and products that are tackling the global climate emergency. Whether it’s cutting carbon emissions in chemical manufacturing, or transforming industrial waste into useful products, this work is groundbreaking and we are extremely pleased that so much of it is now happening at STP.”

He continues,

“Joe and his team are a fantastic addition to our community. We pride ourselves on being agile and responsive, which meant that we could provide the right space for Evolutor in a time-sensitive situation that otherwise could have hindered their growth. I look forward to seeing what 2024 brings for the team.”

You can find out more about Evolutor on the website:

Pictured from left to right: Iwona Smaczyńka-de Rooij, Katrin Schwarz, Pippa Sinclair and Joe Price

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