A Teesside business which has found a more effective way to produce biofuels and chemicals to replace oil has appointed a new CEO as it prepares to bring its technology to market.
Sarah Ellerby’s arrival at Nova Pangaea Technologies follows the successful completion of the company’s Wilton plant in December, which will demonstrate its proprietary process, REFNOVA® to customers worldwide. Sarah will now lead the commercialisation of the business, taking over from Ed Wilson who led the research, development and commissioning phases and who will remain as a non-executive director.
Sarah has 15 years’ experience in board-level roles having been CEO of three US companies within the energy sector. She has led the commercialisation and growth of businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies across a variety of sectors.
Sarah is also a former professional pool player who has won over 80 titles including the European championship. Originally from North Yorkshire, she has returned to the area after 18 years living and working in the US.
Nova Pangaea has developed a rapid and efficient way to produce biofuels and chemicals from ‘non-food biomass’ such as timber, straw and crop residues – thereby helping to cut carbon emissions and reduce reliance on oil but without using land or crops suitable for food.
Sarah’s appointment follows a recent £2.3m funding round led by NPIF - Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and involving Cambridge Angels and venture capital firm Par Equity. The Wilton plant, which was constructed with the help of a £4.6m Department of Transport grant, currently employs ten staff but the company believes it could create hundreds of jobs in the longer term.
Sarah, who has returned from the US to take up the role, said: “It’s great to be back home and to see so much activity in the energy sector. Nova Pangaea is a game-changer in terms of fossil fuel replacement. Having completed the early phases, we are now focused on rolling out the technology and are hoping to announce our first international partner in the coming weeks.”
Ed Wilson, the outgoing CEO, added: “Nova Pangaea is an exciting new cleantech concept. Through the laboratory testing, pilot plant trials and the completion of the Wilton plant, we have now proven its global potential. I am very proud to have been part of a team that has achieved so much.”
Barry Hedley, Chair of Nova Pangaea, said: "With the launch of the Wilton plant, the focus of the business has moved to the global commercial roll-out. We are delighted to welcome Sarah as our new CEO to drive this process forward, while retaining continued technical support from Ed in a non-executive role."
Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager at Mercia, added: “Nova Pangaea’s technology could have a major impact in helping to reduce the world’s reliance on oil. With Sarah’s track record in commercialising and growing businesses and her experience in the energy and manufacturing sectors, she is ideally placed to lead the business forward.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.