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Meet the team

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Philip Aldridge

Chief Executive Officer

North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC)

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Before being appointed Chief Executive Officer in April 2018, Philip worked with NEPIC for 6 years helping deliver ERDF projects, and serving its pharmaceutical members. Prior to his time with the Cluster, Philip held roles at the Centre of Excellence in Life Sciences and technical management positions within GSK in the UK and US.   With extensive pharmaceutical process development and manufacturing experience in the fields of antibiotics and biopharmaceuticals, Philip holds a first degree in Biochemistry, a masters in Biochemical Engineering and is a member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. [Read more]

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Darren Budd

Commercial Director

UK/Ireland BASF Plc

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Darren Budd was born in Taplow, United Kingdom, in 1967. Darren studied Chemistry at Kingston University, United Kingdom, and then went on to do his doctorate on Transition Metal Complexation of Conducting Polymers. Darren has worked for BASF for the last 24 years and has held a number of positions within the company including having worked in Germany for BASF’s Venture Capital Business for 5 years. Since 1st Jan 2016, Darren has been Commercial Director for BASF Plc. This role is responsible for the Chemical Sales activities of BASF in the UK as well as the Commercial activities of BASF… [Read more]

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Dr Fiona Charnley

Associate Professor of Circular Economy

University of Exeter Business School

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I have a background in Industrial Design and graduated with a PhD in Whole System Design from Cranfield University in 2009. I held a lectureship at Cranfield University within the Centre for Creative Competitive Design before joining the University of Exeter Business School in 2019 as Co-Director of the Exeter Centre for the Circular Economy. I lead and collaborate on multiple interdisciplinary research projects investigating the enablers of Circular Innovation including ‘Circular 4.0: Data-Driven Intelligence for a Circular Economy’ investigating the use of digital technology to enable circular strategies in high value manufacturing and ‘Manufacturing Immortality’ investigating the development of… [Read more]

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Becky Cheesbrough

Portfolio Manager


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I’m a portfolio manager in the Manufacturing & the Circular Economy team at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), looking after the ‘bio-based approaches’ portfolio. The role of a portfolio manager is very varied from convening peer review panels, getting to know the research community and having an in-depth knowledge of the research portfolio, and running calls. As part of our strategic portfolio management, I am the point of contact for a number of large grants – which amongst other things means providing support to the grant holder by attending advisory boards to ensure grant conditions are being… [Read more]

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Adam Herriott

Sector Specialist


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Sector Specialist at WRAP and technical lead on several projects within the world-leading UK Plastics Pact including creating a circular economy for flexible plastic packaging; non-mechanical recycling and the recyclability of black plastic packaging. Experience in both public and private sector sides of the waste industry. Have a proven track record of successfully delivering projects having gained industry recognition. A member of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management with a strong working knowledge of local authority procedures and practices as well as waste legislation. [Read more]

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Dr Sheena Hindocha

Knowledge Transfer Manager


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I graduated from Imperial College London in 2013 with a PhD in radioactive medical imaging tracers. In 2014 I moved into industry as a research scientist at Johnson Matthey where I worked on metal organic frameworks, developing their research in this areas and growing the team. In 2017 I took on a project management role deploying a project and portfolio management system across the R&D function to enable new product introduction (NPI). Working across JM to develop their NPI and portfolio management processes. In 2019 I joined KTN as a Knowledge Transfer Manager in materials chemistry working in the chemistry… [Read more]

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Chris Holt

Innovation Manager


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My role as an Innovation Manager at NEPIC is to help drive forward innovation in decarbonisation and circular economy in the North East process industry, with a focus on solutions provided by industrial biotechnology. I have a multidisciplinary research background in biobased chemicals, circular economy and bioenergy, developed during my time at the University of Warwick (MBio in biochemistry) and the University of Leeds (integrated MSc and PhD in Bioenergy and post-doc). At NEPIC we are involved in a number of different projects to help support the North East process industry move towards Net Zero and innovation in circular chemical… [Read more]

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Prof Peter Hopkinson

Professor of Circular Economy and Co-Director of the Exeter Centre for the Circular Economy

University of Exeter

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I joined Exeter University Business School in 2018. Together with Professor Fiona Charnley Peter is Co-Director of the UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research Hub, part of a £30M investment to accelerate Circular Economy Research and Innovation across the UK. Peter has a background in environmental science and economics and is widely known for his work in the Circular Economy, systems thinking and the implementation challenge. Peter leads a number of interdisciplinary research projects investigating the technical challenge of legacy materials such as construction materials, plastics and critical materials and the requirement for the design, financing and enablers for new… [Read more]

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Dr Ian Howell

HomeCare R&D Director


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I have worked for Unilever for 28 years, across the full breadth of the Home and Personal Care business. I have delivered new science, new technology, new patented inventions, and provided detailed technical advice and support for late-stage product development projects. I am an experienced R&D leader able to integrate and develop capabilities in devices, product appraisal, consumer science, physical & chemical sciences, measurement science, marketing, safety, regulatory, patents and Open Innovation with academics, business & government, for successful delivery. My focus is on technology delivery from brilliant science. I am passionate about the development of new R&D ways of… [Read more]

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Dr Nick MacInnes

Office of the Chief Scientific Advis

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

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Dr Nick MacInnes works in the Chief Scientists Office at Defra to coordinate action, both internally and externally, on a range of key issues. He leads a broad range of projects based around two core themes; promoting circularity to increase resource efficiency and reduce natural capital usage and protecting public and environmental health. [Read more]

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Prof Andrea Ramírez Ramírez

Professor at Delft University of Technology


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I hold a bachelor in chemical engineering (Colombia), a master in Human Ecology (Belgium) and a PhD in the field of industrial energy efficiency from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. After my PhD I stayed at Utrecht University, first as assistant professor and then as associate professor at the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development. My research focused on the assessment of carbon capture and storage and biorefineries. Four years ago I joint Delft University of Technology where I was appointed as full professor of Low Carbon Systems and Technologies in the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. I am one… [Read more]

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Prof Jason Ren

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Princeton University

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Prof. Ren and the WET (Water & Energy Technologies) lab members work on Water-Energy Nexus especially in areas of energy and resource recovery during environmental processes such as wastewater treatment and reuse, water desalination, remediation, and carbon capture and utilization. They use electrochemistry, microbiology, and system engineering tools to understand the fundamental determinant factors of the systems so as to enhance design, operation, and monitoring in concert with traditional approaches. Prof. Ren collaborates with colleagues from different disciplines. The group has been funded by federal and state agencies as well as private sponsors and published papers in Nature Sustainability, Nature… [Read more]

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I have spent most of my career at the ‘bleeding edge’ of innovation in market-making companies; starting in tech (Cisco, Check Point) and then launching and scaling purposeful consumer brands and pioneering B Corps (method, gDiapers), and have been at the forefront of building circular economy business models.   Since taking on the role of CEO at Volans, the renowned think-tank and strategic advisory firm, I have reshaped Volans, launching thought leadership Initiatives such as Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry, the Green Swans Observatory, Regenerative Transformation Architecture and the Bankers For NetZero Initiative, whilst continuing to advise a select group of leading… [Read more]

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Prof Jeremy Shears

Chief Scientist


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Jeremy leads Shell’s strategic thinking and innovation agenda to enable the company to thrive through the energy transition. He is a member of the Shell Science Council, which comes together with leading external technology experts from top universities around the world to help Shell stay at the forefront of energy technology innovation. Prior to this, Jeremy was General Manager in Shell’s Projects & Technology division where he was responsible for R&D on advanced biofuels and hydrogen at Shell’s technology centres in Netherlands, USA, UK and India. Jeremy joined Shell in 1986 and has held various commercial and technology leadership positions… [Read more]

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Dr Zina Skoufa

Business Development Manager

Johnson Matthey

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I am a Chemical Engineer, with a PhD in heterogeneous catalysis from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. I stayed in the academia for a little while after my PhD, in a Post-Doc position on CO­­2 capture. In 2015 I moved to Industrial R&D, working in Johnson Matthey’s Technology Centre on several step-out catalysis programmes. Since 2019, I have been working in the Business Development and Innovation team in Johnson Matthey’s Efficient Natural Resources sector, and I am now a Business Development Manager. In my current position, I am responsible for identifying new opportunities for JM in the area of… [Read more]

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Prof Jin Xuan

PI and Director of the Centre

University of Surrey

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I graduated with a PhD degree from The University of Hong Kong in 2012, with the research topic in electrochemical engineering. My academic career in the UK started in 2014, when I took up a Lectureship in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. I was appointed as the Associate Director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) at Heriot-Watt in 2017. I joined Loughborough University in 2018 as a Senior Lecturer, was promoted to Professor/Personal Chair in Low Carbon Processes in 2019 and became the Head of Department of Chemical Engineering in 2020. In 2022,… [Read more]


Telephone: 01509 227186


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Prof Benoit Chachuat

Theme 2 Lead and Project Co-I

Imperial College London

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The overall goal of our research is to develop safe, economically and environmentally sustainable chemical and biological processes through the synergistic use of advanced computational modelling and optimisation methods and process data. Our vision of process systems engineering has a strong focus on rigorous computation to predict the performance at scale of both existing and novel technology and empower decision-making, and we work in close collaboration with experimentalists. We furthermore develop software tools that implement these methods to ensure their dissemination ( [Read more]

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Prof Alex Cowan

Theme 1 Lead and Project Co-I

University of Liverpool

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I lead a research team that develops and studies catalysts for the sustainable production of fuels. Recent work has focused on the chemistry of carbon dioxide utilisation with programmes exploring how solar energy can be used to drive the production of useful fuels from only carbon dioxide and water. I completed my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Nottingham (2007) on the study of inorganic reaction mechanisms with transient spectroscopy and postdoctoral positions at Nottingham developing catalysts for the reduction of carbon dioxide and Imperial College London to study photoelectrochemical water splitting. I was appointed to a Lectureship in… [Read more]

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Shadine Duquemin

Centre Administrator

Loughborough University

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I joined the Centre in 2021 as Centre Administrator. I have worked within a Higher Education setting since 2017 and had previously worked as a Student Support Administrator at Loughborough University. I assist in the day-to-day operational aspects of the Centre, liaising with the project team to co-ordinate research and outreach events. [Read more]


Telephone: 01509 227337

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Prof Elizabeth (Libby) Gibson

Engagement Lead and Project Co-I

Newcastle University

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I joined Newcastle University as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry in 2014 and was promoted to Reader in Energy Materials in 2018. Prior to this I held a University of Nottingham Anne McLaren Research Fellowship and a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship. Research in my group focuses on solar cell and solar fuel devices that function at a molecular level and challenge the conventional solid-state photovoltaic technologies. My current ERC-funded project focuses on developing transparent p-type semiconductors for tandem solar cells and artificial photosynthesis. Molecular and semiconductor synthesis, device assembly and characterization are combined with fundamental studies on the… [Read more]