Holiferm

Holiferm started as a spin out from the University of Manchester in 2018. The first generation technology developed by Holiferm was based on the work that their CEO, Ben Dolman, completed during his PhD studies. He researched into ways to bring environmentally friendly bioproducts to market and made this the aim of Holiferm.

In August 2020 a research and development laboratory was opened in Manchester to refine the technology Ben Dolman had designed during his studies. In April 2021 a pilot plant was opened in Daresbury to test the technology and prove it was scalable. In February 2023 the company opened a commercial plant in Wallasey to bring the technology and bioproducts to market. In the five years since it’s founding Holiferm has grown into a size and scale and now employs over 40 members of staff from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds.

 

Holiferm’s first process, developed from R&D lab to commercial plant, is a patented fermentation with integrated gravity separation technology for producing sophorolipids. Holiferm are the first company in the world to be using this technology. It uses natural raw ingredients in a process that produces significantly less CO2 and uses less energy when compared to traditional surfactant manufacturing methods using petrochemicals. Since refining this process Holiferm has worked on processes for producing rhamnolipids and MELs. These processes are currently at pilot plant scale with the intention to introduce them commercially in 2024. The biosurfactants that Holiferm produce are more sustainable, milder and higher-performing than the alternatives in the market today and have been independently verified as such.

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Start Date

Manchester & Liverpool

Location

47

Employees

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Grants

£?

Equity

The Journey

In the past 5 years Holiferm has achieved far beyond it’s means. To go from a start-up spin out from the University of Manchester to opening a 1100 KTA manufacturing plant in such a short amount of time is testament to the hard work, dedication and perseverance of our team.

The technology developed by the founders was proved in the University laboratories, before being tested at pilot plant scale in 2018 through a number of collaborations. In 2019 we were fortunate to receive funding from ICOS Captial, who have supported our journey ever since. This funding allowed us to rapidly scale up the technical and commercial parts of the business. This included preparing to build a bespoke pilot plant facility, which completed in early 2021. Rhapsody Ventures and the Clean Growth Fund both invested in 2021, paving the way for the commercial plant to enter the design stage. The plant build took us through 2022 and into early 2023.

Holiferm applied for the ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge fund with their project titled “Sophorosurf commercial demonstrator,” aiming to achieve resource efficiency in the chemicals sector through biosurfactant production, addressing global challenges such as climate change and promoting sustainable industrial processes. The project had a duration of 24 months, starting in January 2022 and ending in December 2023, with a total cost of £2,569,269 and received grant funding of £1,099,647.

Holiferm started to get recognized for the innovative work we were doing including winning the ‘Innovation Award’ at the Chemicals Northwest, the ‘Collaborative Partnership Award’ at Lab Innovations and the ‘Innovation Award’ at the SEPAWA Conference all in 2022. We were also named as one of the Liverpool City Region ‘Ones to Watch’ and followed this up in 2023 by being named as a ‘Tech Climber’, which is a company that is a top-performing, IP-rich, product-led technology businesses.

In February 2023 we opened our first commercial biosurfactant plant to produce our sophorolipids and announced that we were working on the processes for rhamnolipids and MELs to bring them to market in 2024. Holiferm also successfully opened a bespoke research and development laboratory in Manchester, which allows for further exploration of a range of biosurfactant products and the development of innovative processes to manufacture these.

In late 2023 Holiferm were named as Manufacturer/Distributor of the Year at the Chemical Business Association awards, whilst our CTO Vicky DeGroff was named Young Person of the Year. Both of these awards demonstrate the progeess Holiferm has made and will continue to make. 

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    Future Goals

    Holiferm’s long term vision is to manufacture of holistically sustainable bioproducts at a value point at which they are affordable to everyone and therefore obliterate petrochemicals
    from the market. Just as importantly, we will enhance the lives of our employees
    and external stakeholders by working collaboratively by always looking for mutual
    benefit and providing opportunities for growth and impact.

    In 2024 we aim to bring rhamnolipids and MELs to the commercial market. We will also be expanding the capacity of the plant from 1100KTA and 3500KTA in the short term. Longer term this capacity will be increased to 15000KTA, before opening further plants.