Have you ever wondered how companies are repurposing carbon dioxide emissions and turning them into valuable raw materials? In this episode of The Chemical Show, we dive into the world of carbon capture and utilization with our guest, Keith Wiggins, CEO of Econic Technologies. Econic is a company focused on repurposing carbon dioxide emissions into valuable carbon-based raw materials.
In this episode of The Chemical Show, host Victoria Meyer and Keith discuss the different brackets of technologies for repurposing CO2 and the challenges they have faced in terms of stability and cost. He highlights the significant amount of CO2 emissions produced globally each year and the need to do something with this captured carbon. Keith shares his insights and experiences in developing technologies that repurpose CO2, the challenges faced in gaining market acceptance, and the potential for creating a circular economy in industries such as polyurethanes and surfactants.
Join us to learn more about the following this week:
- Hitting chemical industry glass ceilings
- The origin story of Econic Technologies
- Defining what “good” looks like through working with the world’s largest chemical companies
- Econic’s focus on commercializing technology
- “Pioneered Licensees” with Econic Technologies
- Critical attributes in chemical industry business partnerships
- Working with customers’ resistance to new technology
- Opportunities in the renewable carbon initiative, sustainability in the chemical industry
- China’s influence on the chemical industry
- What’s next for Econic?
In this episode, Victoria and Keith delve into the exciting world of carbon capture and utilization. Keith discusses the challenges faced in repurposing CO2 emissions, the need to create a market and demand for such technologies, and the importance of collaboration with partners and understanding the value chain. We explore the global push for sustainability and how the chemical industry can play a pivotal role in driving innovation and efficiency. Join us as we uncover the potential for creating a circular economy and turning carbon dioxide into a valuable resource for industry.
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Watch Victoria’s Interview with Keith Wiggins on Youtube Here:
Listen to Victoria Speak to Keith Wiggins of Econic Technologies Here:
From Carbon Emissions To Valuable Raw Material With Keith Wiggins of Econic Technologies
Hi, this is Victoria Meyer. Welcome back to The Chemical Show. This week I am speaking with Keith Wiggins who is the CEO of Econic Technologies, a deep tech company focused on catalyst technology for renewable carbon. It’s a lot of words but we’re gonna get to that. He’s an accomplished senior leader. He joined Econic in 2021 to help commercialize and take the company to the next level. He brings over 35 years of experience in material science companies, including ICI, Dow, as well as several startups. Keith is really an advocate for advanced manufacturing and sustainability and actively supports the chemical industry sustainable transformation. We’re going to hear a lot about that today. So, Keith, welcome to The Chemical Show.
Victoria, thanks for the opportunity. Delighted to be here.
Great to have you here. Keith, what’s your origin story? What got you interested in chemicals in the first place and what eventually led you to Econic?
It all comes down to a love of chemistry. The science is fantastic in terms of what it does and what it can achieve. If I think back, as a kid I was always interesting chemistry. I used to do experiments as a kid. That took me to university, where I studied chemistry. You also learn a little bit about yourself in that growing up period. I needed to know chemistry enough that I needed to be able to look things up, not necessarily the deep stuff.
Anyway, I joined ICI as a chemist. I got really bored being in the lab and wearing the lab coat and all the repetition. So I moved to a TS&D role. Got far more energy seeing how the chemistry was applied working with customers, but it was at a time when there were glass ceilings and glass walls within the ICI organization. I wanted to get into commercial and into sales, but effectively that wasn’t an option for me in ICI.
Since you were a chemist by training, so you couldn’t go commercial?
Yeah, if you’re hired as a chemist, you stay a chemist. That’s the track you’re on. It was clearly rigid back in the day, but what was interesting was this disrupt. This gamechanger was coming into Europe at the time, and that was Dow Chemical. It was a really exciting time. I looked around, and American companies in general were by far the most commercially advanced in their thinking at that particular time. So I joined Dow and stayed there for 22 years, and they were fantastic.
Commercial roles, always in specialty chemicals, and progressively bigger roles has given me fantastic opportunities at a really young age. The opportunity to live internationally. I spent time in Germany, Switzerland and the U.S. running global businesses and moving up through the ladder, which was fantastic. It was also a time when DOW was doing major acquisitions, like Union Carbide and Rohm Haas. Just to go through those experiences and many others was a fantastic, priceless experience. I came out in 2013, and we needed to stay in the UK because of my kids education and needed to look around. The Dow Diamond was still firmly imprinted in my forehead, so I couldn’t compete well to get into another corporate. I didn’t really want to, because I thought that Dow was probably the best at what it did at that time.
I looked around and private equity was in its ascendancy at that time. So I set up a consulting company, did a lot of PE work from a consulting perspective. I just loved the fact that there was money that was available that could come from that, but the work wasn’t really that exciting. Neither were the people to be quite honest. What was exciting was the stuff which was coming out of UK universities, which is very, very strong. Lots and lots of really cool innovation and lots of innovation companies which were selling materials into the industry.
I had a lot to offer based on my DOW experience. So I consulted for many really varied companies, which was an amazing experience in terms of getting into this environment, which was so different from DOW. Then got exec positions first with Nanoco, and then one again and right at the early stage, I’d got to understand or know Econic. I’d made the connection in those early days with Dow, the polyurethane business, but it was very early. It was from Imperial College, which is my alma mater and I managed to keep in touch. Anyway, 10 years after Econic was born and had their transition, they approached me and I didn’t have any hesitation with regard to taking on this new opportunity. So, that’s my my history in a nutshell.
That’s a great history. I think it’s interesting that you felt that you hit some glass ceilings. We have a lot of conversation these days about glass ceilings in terms of women and people of color and other categorizations, but the reality is. There’s a lot of glass ceilings in different areas that we don’t always recognize.
Yeah, and they vary in different geographies. The U. S. is very much a meritocracy, and hopefully it’ll stay that way.
We hope so. All right, Keith, tell us a little bit about Econic Technologies.
It’s a fabulous opportunity to be with Econic. It’s absolutely at the forefront of the move of manufacturing towards renewable carbon. Effectively, if you take the premise that the world is continuing to grow and require the products that the chemical industry makes, most of which are carbon based, there is enough carbon above the ground now to sustain that growth. So if you consider recycling, biobase, and CO2, then effectively all of that carbon can be repurposed, rather than being treated as waste, to make the essential products that enhance our lives every day. CO2 is classified as a waste today and Econic has a fabulous catalyst based technology, which converts that CO2 into a useful raw material. That’s our mission. To start the business, primarily in the polyurethanes industry and secondarily in the surfactants industry, to make CO2 a comonomer with existing feedstocks.
It’s some 20 years in R&D if you include the research that went on in the universities, 10 years as R&D for Econic as a company. Then the last two years with a fundraise which closed in 2022 has all been about commercialization, and that’s effectively my task. The transitioning of the company from an R&D base to a real thriving, growing commercial enterprise. I have to say, we’re having fun and we’re making it happen at the moment.
That’s awesome. I know we’re going to talk a little bit later about how you’re doing some of that. For now though, Keith you led businesses, in some of the biggest chemical companies. I’ve seen that. Then you’ve gone to a tiny, in comparison, startup. What stands out to you as the biggest difference or the biggest opportunity when you compare the two?
Starting off with similarities, the fundamentals are the same. We’re here to make money for our investors and our investors are venture capitalists, and they have a set criteria which they require to get return on their investment. Also the same principles apply when it comes to essentials like safety, respect for people, and the same responsibility around supply chains. So, the fundamentals remain the same.
When you’re in a company like Dow, you get to learn what “good” looks like. They have processes and the experience to be able to really define what good looks like. That sets the competitive standard in the marketplace. So what you bring as an industry professional that’s been through the process and the developments with a company like Dow, is that experience to apply as this new organization is starting to grow. The other fundamentals are understanding customers, because customers buy based on the same criteria, whether you’re Dow or Econic. The same criteria applies with regard to geographic differences in terms of what drives markets. Policy is so important in Europe and competitiveness is so important with regard to the US and the evolving markets in China. So there’s a level of being able to take this experience and apply it on a blank canvas. That’s really, really exciting.
I think that’s interesting too, because you’re right, you get to take these learnings, and the fundamentals of business are the fundamentals of business across companies and across industries. You get to also maybe break some of the bad habits, because we all know that every company has bad habits. So you get to leave a few things behind, and take some things forward.
Big companies have great processes and great people. But, it’s running processes which are fabulously well-developed in big companies. You get to learn that, and necessarily so. Just the size of the organization, the spread and the breadth. With smaller companies, you have to rely on great people. You have to build in appropriate processes when you need it. Now, where it goes bad in big companies is when the process becomes the self-fulfilling prophecy.
You take your eye off of the customer and what the customer wants. You take your eye off the technology. Then you’re just fulfilling that process. So we’re at a delicate balance here, we need to apply processes, but we need to apply them appropriately to get the job done. The biggest difference is speed and impact, without any shadow of a doubt, because early stage companies, VC funded companies, they’re not for the faint-hearted. We are spending our investors cash. As long as we’re not delivering what we say we’re going to deliver, the money doesn’t go on forever. So we have to implement, we don’t have time to analyze and perfect the situation. We have to get out there and sell it when it’s good enough and then work with partners to build it up into something which is a commercial proposition.
The other part of it is, you can do great work within a big company, as part of a fantastic team and it comes out with a great result. There’s a certain fulfillment about being that cog in as part of the wheel. When you are in an early stage company, the impact is amazing. So when you do get a deal over the line, when the molecule comes out on spec, when you do scale up and the plant runs, the impact there is fantastic. So from a personal fulfillment perspective, I would recommend it to anyone.
As I say, it’s like all things in life, there’s ups and downs. So you’ve got to be quite resilient at the same time.
Yeah, and I think in a startup, there’s no place to hide. As we know, in every big corporation, you can hide sometimes whether it’s by day or whether it’s by year, but when you’re in a startup, there is no hiding. Everything you do is visible and impactful, positively and negatively.
Completely. That’s the way it is, but you’ve got to believe in the technology, you’ve got to believe in the opportunity, and you’ve got to make the team believe in that to be able to move forward. That’s quite visceral, and that’s quite a nice environment to be in. If that’s what floats your boat, which it does for me.
So your focus at Econic is commercialization of the technology and really helping bring Econic to a commercial enterprise, starting with polyurethane and I know you’re also looking into surfactant. What are the critical elements or steps for Econic in achieving that commercialization? What’s the path that you’re taking and how will you know that you’re there?
What we’re doing at Econic is we’re creating a market, and we’re creating the demand for something that doesn’t currently exist today in industrial quantities. So we’ve got to understand the whole value chain, and the drivers of the market going forward. Coming back to this whole area of renewable carbon, if you look forward to consumers and Generation X coming through, the world’s making great inroads with regard to sustainability. Once the emissions part and the energy part is sorted, then you’re going to be looking at what constitute the materials that make what we use every day. It’s all carbon-based and that needs to be well taken care of with renewable carbon. The chemical industry, as much as I love it and as much as I’ve been brought up with it, I recognize that it’s conservative in nature. It’s highly regulated, the pressure on cost, the pressure on efficiency, the innovation is not what it used to be. So for us to be able to create a market for our product, we’ve got to go down the value chain and we have to sell concept with the supporting data, which are credible to the drivers, the channel captains in the specific value chains that we want to sell.
When you talk about doing that, Keith, going down the value chain. You’re talking about getting all the way down to consumer products companies, for instance, right? The people that are the final users of the material. Is that correct?
That’s absolutely right. These technologies at the early stage, they’re never perfect. There’s always some adjustment that’s needed when you’re looking at it from a manufacturing perspective. You can go crazy as an early stage company saying, “You really need to buy my technology because this is what it’s going to do to you, or do for your business as a producer.” If you’re running a big, highly-efficient operation, it’s very difficult to be able to make that change without the pull coming through from the marketplace.
So if you’re going to the end product and you look at those markets that are consolidated amongst the big brands, then they’ve got tremendous buying power. But they’re also under an immense amount of pressure when it comes to their ESG reporting. So if you can capture a more sustainable, higher-performing, equal or lower cost product, and then work with them to leverage it through their supply chain. What we’re seeing is that’s coming through in spades with regard to consumer goods companies and automotive companies, and so on and so forth. So the train has left the station, and it’s gathering speed. But for an early stage company, we haven’t got so many resources, so we need collaboration, we need focus, and we need to be able to articulate the benefits and the impact of what we can bring. When they introduce us to their supply chain, then we’ve got to work collaboratively with the supply chain in order to be able to get that done.
I know from our prior conversations that there’s a couple of darlings in the industry that have done this. So Lanzatech, which is a great example and in fact I spoke with Jennifer Holmgren, their CEO, last year. They also had a 20 year journey, so there is no quick wins in overnight successes. Overnight success comes after 20 years, but they certainly have done very well at partnering. I think they did some work with Zara. They’ve done some work with others.
I’ve spoken with Avantium and their CEO, and they’ve similarly done things in the PET space or PET replacement space with Carlsberg, Beager and others. So figuring out how you get to that end is certainly critical.
Those two companies are real and they’re the leading edge. They’re fantastic. I’ve never met Jennifer Holmgren, but I am a huge admirer of what she does. And clearly Avantium is really at that forefront with regards to the polyester supply chain. So yeah, we’re riding on their tails.
Hey, you know what? It’s good to have a coattail to ride on, and a great example across the chemical industry of a path that is a successful one to follow.
You guys are partnering with some companies in different regions to support your efforts, right? Manali Petrochemical in India, Tianwan in China and then most recently Monument Chemical in the U. S. Number one, what’s the role that these partnerships play for you? We’ll start with that question and then I’ll follow up with another.
Well, they are the brave souls, and we call them pioneer licensees. They require all of the first mover advantage that they take on the responsibility and the risk of going first, because again, this isn’t for the faint hearted and getting stuff into the marketplace has got to work. It’s got to be cross competitive and there has to be supply chains in place. So these folks are very brave. Our primary focus is to make them as successful as we possibly can. We want them to have fabulous businesses where they are just completely in the lead in this sector with regard to this technology. Our focus is working with them and it is going really well.
Chenoir are building a 20,000 tonne facility in Changsha Gang in China, and we’re working with them and with a European engineering company for the plant design. So that’s moving ahead. Manali and Monument are both retrofitting their existing facilities, which is a fantastic thing about the Econic technology, it works in existing assets. With a relatively low capex retrofit, you can get all the benefits of being able to use CO2 as a co monomer in your production. So both Monument and Manali are going through those retrofit exercises now. So we’re at the stage now where we are desperate to get industrial quantities of the type they can provide into the marketplace.
So they’re taking the technology and the catalyst, and creating the polyurethane to then go sell into the market. So they’re one step away from the end of the value chain, or somewhere in there.
Yeah. We’re not going to be a polyol provider, so our business model is to license our technology and then sell catalysts. From that perspective, what we do is, after the deal is done, we transfer our technology under license, and we’ve got a fabulous patent portfolio which supports that license. Then we work to transfer customers, which we’ve taken to a level of our capability. We’ve got a pilot plant in Runcorn near Liverpool, which makes pilot quantities. But we are way oversold. So we’re working now against the clock to get those larger quantities in place so that the customers developments and qualifications can go ahead.
Got it. So you’ve got some product in the market being played with, so to speak, and your partners are going to help get some actual commercial quantities.
That’s exactly right. They want to scale up their trials, and we’ve got a portfolio which is, as I say, burgeoning. But, we can’t do the engineering work quickly enough. Let’s put it that way.
Yeah. Well, it’s good to have demand.
Yeah it’s tremendous.
So what do you find critical? I think partnerships are absolutely key in developing and scaling technology, we’re especially seeing this all over in green chemistry and sustainable chemistries, that partnering is the way to go because nobody has each piece of the equation. So you do that. What do you find is the key enablers of an effective partnership so that you’re both getting what you want out of it?
I think it’s alignment. It starts at the top and it’s alignment of the business objectives. By building a relationship where we understand what our customers want. Then, we need to focus on delivering that as a company. There is the physical tech transfer of the technology when it comes to the recipes and the manufacturing of different polyols containing different quantities of CO2. This market is a specialty chemical market. There are hundreds of variants of polyol out there. So we also work with them on formulation of different systems to be able to help them accelerate their path to market.
From an engineering perspective, we also work with them with regard to the retrofit on their existing facilities with all of the safety and quality requirements that they need. It’s a multi-relationship that set up the project plans that we have to put in place. It starts with that alignment around, how can we make you successful? For a business like ours, we’re making a transition, it’s the R&D guys that got us here. There’s a very different way of working between doing R&D to doing what a customer wants, and so we really need to be acutely focused on their business and what they require to be able to get to market. That’s a transition that we’re going through. What’s also interesting is the different growth phases. The demand is already starting to multiply. This is quite exponential in terms of the movement going forward.
I think the challenge for us, will be putting the supply chain behind it with regard to getting catalyst manufactured and recycled at the appropriate points around the world. So there’s an awful lot to be done here, but with that relationship and that alignment of objectives, then we can focus on making it happen.
I know that there have been some new polyurethane technologies that utilize CO2, that in some cases have shut down. So people have had experience with a similar technology, and that wasn’t successful for them. You’re obviously on this path to be successful and I know some of the inner-workings of Econic’s so I know some of the detail but, how do you overcome that resistance? Your customers, whether they be chemical companies or whether they be the end unit users, have to make a prioritized decision about what they’re working on. They can’t work on every new technology or new idea. So, how do you overcome some of those objections?
I think we’ve got the best technology, but we can’t claim the ideation of the concept of getting CO2 repurposed in polymers. But the other technologies are quite different from ours. If you look at the technologies out there, they fall into three distinct brackets and actually the molecules are quite different as well in terms of where the CO2 is in the backbone of the polymer. So there were issues in the past, which led to a perception in the market that these products were unstable. There’s also the aspect of cost and scale up cost. If you look at another technology, which is out there, it requires very, very high pressures and very high temperatures, which means that your capex cost goes through the roof. Plus, chemical reactions at high pressures and high temperatures require different ways of manufacturing.
So scalability or affordable scalability is a key thing for us. We needed to be able to present data. You sell the concepts and you sell the performance of the molecule and the added benefits into the value chain to a producer. The key criteria are cost to produce and feasibility of production and the benefits that go with that. So it’s not a trivial exercise at all, and you need to have material that people can test and work with.
There’s no point in going in and pleading, “Well we’re different, it was different last time, but this is what we can do.” They actually want to see it. So they want to see phones, they want to test the polyols, they want to put it through their systems in order to be able to prove it out. It’s a similar situation to the engineering aspect, to bring partners in that bring the credibility and the affirmation that you need. The engineering provider that we’re working with did full due diligence on our process before they would take on the PDP work because of their own reputation. So all of that is positive reaffirmation of what we do. But it’s much easier to say than it is to do because of all of the various different aspects of what our business requires. So you can add in regulatory approvals, you can add in product registration, you can add in life cycle assessments and the impact on overall environmental footprint.
All of this adds to the complexity of our industry, but also what holds our industry together and makes it strong. So we can’t just go in and say, you better buy our product and then they sign a check. It doesn’t work that way.
Some of the proof is in the pudding and it’s in who you partner with. I think even your point about the due diligence that your engineering partner did, because it’s their reputation also on the line is really notable. On a broader level, you and Econic are pretty active in the renewable carbon initiative and The Sustainability Working Group of Europur the European Association of Flexible Polyurethane Foam.
You’re in the renewable space, so you clearly see the opportunity. You see this as the next step. What is the opportunity though, for the rest of the chemical industry as it relates to renewable feedstocks and circularity? Why do we need to be getting on this bandwagon, and taking the next steps towards renewable?
Well, in terms of the drivers behind it, it’s obviously the global warming and the drive towards more sustainable technologies. As I mentioned earlier, emissions and energy comes first. The carbon footprint of manufacturing will follow. I think that’s pretty well understood. Then if you look at the growth trajectories in the world, there’s finite resources which are coming through from existing fossil fuels. Where there are fossil fuels, they’re coming from more difficult areas to extract which puts their cost up. Then there’s the political aspect of all of this with what’s happening in Russia, Ukraine and different parts of the world. Different continents have different challenges in that regard. Looking at the overall consumption then, the consumption has to be fueled or fed from a raw material base, which is reliable and sustainable, and that’s where renewable carbon comes in.
There’s some fantastic technologies coming through, and we’re proud to be part of that. If you take it in terms of the mass balance, you can gasify, paralyze technology based on cheap, sustainable energy now to make feedstocks to look through existing crackers. Then you’ve got this mass balance approach. I don’t know the LCA on that or the carbon footprint on that, but all of the indications from the companies that are driving this, are that it’s going to happen. You’ve also got the circular economy in terms of collecting supply, aggregating existing supply chains and repurposing the existing materials. You’ve got the biobase and so you’re competing with crops and food sources, but you’ve also got that whole element of fermentation routes to different chemistries. And then, of course, you’ve got CO2. There’s 36 billion tons of CO2 emitted every year.
It’s massive, and that’s every year. So then you look at the carbon capture technology, which is going in place to collect that CO2, whether that’s from emissions or from air capture or various other sources. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got to do something with it. So you can stick it back down underground in the old oil wells up to a point. But all of that is a cost. So the capture is a cost, the storage is a cost. Why not take that abundant CO2 and turn it into a valuable raw material? That’s the key thing here, we’re taking waste carbon and making it valuable carbon. We’re repurposing that carbon to put it to good use. The momentum of this is why I believe that we’re on the leading edge on a macro basis, specifically with polyurethanes and then with surfactants. Our technology goes into other polymer systems, but our investors want us to get to market and show a return on what we do, and the reason for that is the opportunity within polyurethane, It’s probably 3 to 5 years behind the circular systems that are being put in place for the big global thermoplastics.
PLA is another area that doesn’t fit with existing recycling systems, and is starting to find that the niche is where it adds benefit. So as all of these technologies converge, there will be winners that come through. Whether or not, that’s driven purely by commercial routes, or whether it’s driven by policy. That’s the reason why we’re involved in the RCI and with Europoor. Specifically, Europe is far more driven by policy.
Having said that, look at what Biden is doing with the IRAs in North America. There’s a capitalist principle that’s coming behind that policy to do things based on future technologies. And there’s a couple of states that you’ve actually petitioned on CCU technologies. So it’s starting, the Chinese see the opportunity as well.
Yeah, we’ll talk about China a little bit because I know that when we were talking earlier, you mentioned that you really see China accelerating ahead in renewable technologies, carbon, and neutral technologies. Can you just elaborate on that a little bit?
Yeah, I can. On a personal basis, my first trip into mainland China was in 1989. I’ve been incredibly privileged in terms of the time when I was born to see China and its ascendancy. If you look at the last 20 years, it’s growth has really supported the world economies. But in those early days when it was moving into manufacture, it was always 2nd generation technologies and everybody was scared of IP integrity and the like. Now I see China in a different mode, I see them leapfrogging existing technologies to go to future technologies based on growing their manufacturing base going forward. So it’s happening, they are confident, they’ve got very good people, they’ve got global supply chains that have all been put in place and they’re fully motivated to make this happen. Every time I come back from China, I come back exhilarated, they are a force absolutely to be reckoned with.
Interesting. As you alluded to some of the policy drivers that Europe is putting in place, North America kind of has always had that. So I think it’s not really a capitalistic free-will society, as much as government driven strategically and so I think that’s part of it as well.
The meetings are very different. No one argues or has a counter view in a Chinese meeting. It’s more of, this is what we will do because that’s what has come from above. So, in an autocratic society, you can get things done very, very quickly. It doesn’t mean that their policies and their safety and their attention to the environment is any different to anywhere else in the world. Their standards are high, but they get things done because they make a decision and they move ahead with it. It’s a far simpler environment to grow than the West.
So Keith, what’s next for Econic? What should we be looking for in terms of the next 6 to 12 months? And when are we going to start seeing Econic products, or Econic technology based products out in the market?
We’re test marketing in different parts of the world now and those developments are going very well. So I don’t think it’s long until you see products in the market. It’s going to be up to our customers, how much they tell their story and shout about it. We’ll be doing everything to be able to sing this from the rooftops. So I don’t think it will be long. Our first task is to get these plants built and get product in the market in commercial quantities. That will be in the next 12 to 18 months.
We’ll have a European supplier on board as well at that time. So these are our pioneer investors. These are the people that are going first and what comes after them, we’ll see. Our business model is to license our technology and to sell our catalysts. So we’re taking it one step at a time, and the first stage is really keep focusing on making our existing pioneer licensees as successful as they can be. Then our belief is that success breeds success, and we’ll work on some options from that point.
Awesome. Well, Keith, thank you for taking your time today to join us today on The Chemical Show. It’s been great to have a conversation with you.
Fantastic to be here, Victoria, and thank you once again for the opportunity. Really appreciate it.
You’re welcome. And thanks, everyone, for joining us today. Keep listening, keep following, keep sharing, and we will talk again soon.
About Keith Wiggins:
Keith Wiggins is the CEO of Econic Technologies, a deep tech company focused on catalyst technology for renewable carbon. An accomplished senior leader, Keith joined Econic in 2021, bringing over 35 years of experience in the materials science sector and related industries.
Keith has held numerous executive and non-executive leadership positions at publicly traded and privately owned companies. He has a demonstrated history of driving value and growth, including leading turnarounds at blue chip and early-stage companies.
He started his career with ICI as a chemist, before joining Dow Chemical where he progressed through international commercial and corporate roles, located globally, over 23 years. He returned to the UK as General Manager of Dow’s UK, Ireland, and Nordic region, before moving on to serve in executive management and consultative roles with early-stage growth and scale up innovation companies. These include Worn Again Technologies, a company focused on polymer recycling processes, and Nanoco, a developer of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials.
Keith is an advocate for advanced manufacturing and sustainability and actively supports the chemical industry’s sustainable transformation. Under his leadership, Econic Technologies has joined the Renewable Carbon Initiative and participates in the Sustainability and Product Stewardship Working Groups of Europur, the European Association of Flexible PU Foam Blocks Manufacturers.