Future 50: IT recycling specialist launches new biotech company
- Credit: N2S
N2S, a Suffolk-based IT professional services firm with a growing UK-wide presence, is accelerating the growth of its biotechnology division under a new sister company.
The newly-formed company, Bioscope Technologies, will operate from new premises in Cambridge and sit alongside N2S under holding company Bioscope 3 Ltd.
Phil Allington, a director of Bioscope 3 Ltd, has been appointed chairman of Bioscope Technologies, with Paul O’Neill named chief operating officer. Director Andrew Gomarsall MBE continues as executive chairman of N2S and will lead on new partnerships within the technology sectors for Bioscope.
N2S, which is 20 years old this year and has additional offices in London, uses sustainable processes to decommission, recover and recycle the components of IT equipment – ensuring that practically none of it goes to landfill. Its other services include data destruction/erasure and the reuse of technology to support a circular economy.
The company also extracts valuable materials, such as rare earth metals, from printed circuit boards (PCB) in IT devices that are no longer serviceable. It does this using an innovative process known as bioleaching, which is less harmful to the environment than other methods involving incineration, chemicals and acids.
“Imagine the amount of energy that's needed to heat up a 1,000-degree furnace,” said Phil Allington. “We're using bacteria at room temperature. There's a big, big difference.
“That's our special IP – the mechanical way we miniaturise the PCB down to a dust, and how the bacteria extracts each metal. Everything is reused – there is no waste – so it’s as close to zero carbon emissions as possible, without offsetting.”
Andrew explained that running this part of the business as a separate entity would enable it to grow fast in the emerging cleantech sector.
"We realised that it's very difficult to have such a unique innovation and run a growing business successfully as well, plus Bioscope’s customers may start with the new brand and move to N2S in the future,“ he said.
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Bioscope Technologies already has a team of 10 and is on a “massive recruitment drive” for its new Cambridge laboratory.
“The jobs on offer are very different to N2S’s core business – we're talking about biology and chemistry meeting with the focus on metallurgy,” said Andrew. “This is a different world to N2S which is heavily focussed on reverse logistics and the protection of companies’ assets, as well as re-using technology for further life.”
He added: “Cambridge is a well-known science and technology area, with a world-renowned university, so it made a lot of sense for Bioscope to start here, building a new team of scientists and engineers.”
The restructure will also set the company up for global growth, as it looks to target PCB manufacturers around the world – as well as the plethora of businesses with IT equipment.
“There are circa 1,700 PCB manufacturers in the world, but there are also plenty of companies that have a ton of technology with no idea where the value is in recycling terms – whether that's data centres or end user devices. The list goes on,” said Andrew.
N2S is committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and with governments setting ambitious net-zero targets, Andrew believes more businesses will be compelled to explore the services offered by N2S and Bioscope Technologies.
“In the UK, businesses have signed up to reduce their carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, so every company will need to look at their supply chains – and their suppliers will need to prove they're reducing carbon emissions,” he said.
“Our ambition is to be the greenest part of a company’s supply chain and the greenest company for refining precious metals from technology, while supporting a true circular economy for governments and manufacturers.”
This could even mean going a step further than net zero, Andrew added. “We're actually looking to be carbon positive, which would be a real game-changer.” he said.
For more information, visit www.n2s.co.uk