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CATAGEN prepares for next phase of growth with funding support from Whiterock

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9th February 2024

CATAGEN prepares for next phase of growth with funding support from Whiterock

Belfast-based net zero innovation company CATAGEN has received £1m of funding from the Growth Finance Fund which will be used to accelerate the growth of the business.

Finance for the £37.5m Growth Finance Fund – which can provide SMEs with loans up to £2m – is provided by the British Business Bank, Invest NI and private investors, the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC). The fund is managed by Whiterock Finance.

CATAGEN’s mission is to clean and decarbonise the air. Its cutting-edge net zero technologies are focused on helping hard to decarbonise sectors such as heavy industry, marine, aviation, mobility and agriculture to meet 2050 targets.

Founded over a decade ago by Dr Andrew Woods and Professor Roy Douglas, the company’s core business as a green emissions testing facility has seen it work with some of the world’s best known automotive brands to optimise catalytic convertor development and reduce harmful tailpipe emissions.

Over the past two years it has secured a combined £21.5m in project funding including seven awards by the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to develop advanced climate technologies under its ClimaHtech brand, including Green Hydrogen and Biohydrogen Generators, E-fuel production, Hydrogen Compression and Carbon Capture.

Several of those funding awards require CATAGEN to match fund a percentage of the project value, meaning it has had to finance the costs of investing in new equipment and expanding its team before drawing down the funds.

Susan Crawford, CFO of CATAGEN said: “The support from Whiterock has been very important in helping to unlock the full financial package so we could provide match funding at the right time, without impacting our core business.

“Our strategy is very considered and structured. We know what sort of company we want to be and we’re very clear about how we go ahead and who we partner with. But we had the ramp up costs of hiring 30 new staff and setting up two new offices before starting work on commercialising our new technologies.

“The support of Whiterock, allied to the belief UK government has shown in CATAGEN, sets us on a trajectory to deliver scalable projects and to create significant new joint ventures and licensing opportunities.”

Rhona Barbour, Investment Director at Whiterock, said: “CATAGEN is a business that is understandably generating tangible excitement with the development of its new net zero technologies. That excitement is built on the solid foundation of a very credible core business that continues to grow, win new contracts and which has unrivalled expertise in this field.

“We know the hard yards that Andrew and his team have put in to get to this point and the company has a very ambitious strategy in place for the future. We are delighted to be playing a part in helping the company move to its next phase of commercialisation and growth.”

CATAGEN has grown its team to more than 65 people, hiring in high quality talent across chemical, mechanical and software engineering, including nine PhDs as well as a cohort of new apprentices.

It expects to commercialise the first of its technologies this year with an industry partner and build three new demonstrators in Northern Ireland by the end of Q1 2025, while also developing strategic projects in heavy industry, sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen for mobility.

In addition to the growth of the ClimaHtech business the company’s core business also continues to grow and has diversified into solid oxide fuel cell testing in partnership with global industrial brands.

Susan adds: “CATAGEN’s core business gives us a maturity that a lot of start-ups don’t have. A company like ours would traditionally have given away a material amount of its equity by this stage.

“When we want to make a decision in CATAGEN, the senior management team and board of directors make that decision and it’s enacted that week. We continue to look at options for taking investment, with the right partner and at the right time in our growth plan.

“We’re looking for innovative like-minded partners that can help us scale and add value. That’s what Whiterock have done. Our purpose is to clean and decarbonise the air and we always bring every decision back to that.”