4 Minutes with…Daniel Hayes, CEO, Celignis Analytical

August 2, 2015 |

hayesTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.  

Celignis undertakes laboratory analysis of biomass samples to determine properties relevant for the production of biofuels and bioenergy. We are the only company to offer near infrared (NIR) analysis for cellulosic properties relevant to advanced biofuel production. This means we can provide results within one day and at a significantly lower cost.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.  

– My role is as the Managing Director of Celignis and my remit is to expand this recent university spin-out to become the world’s foremost company in biomass analysis.

-We plan to continue to improve the depth and breadth of our NIR predictive models so that we cover more biomass feedstocks and provide even more accurate results.

– Expand the range of parameters that we analyse for and to work on also developing NIR models for these parameters.

– To work with our customers in developing analytical methods most suitable for their business needs.

– We are also targeting a number of different international research projects in funding calls led by the European Union.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?    

– To get “second of a kind” commercial-scale second generation biofuels production facilities built and profitable. This will be the basis for rapid expansion of the cellulosic ethanol industry.

– Consistency in terms of governmental supports and excise exemptions for the sector.

– To shift the public’s perception of biofuels from 1st to 2nd gen.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

I would put a ban of all unrealistic claims made by companies (in terms of technical prowess) and the industry in general (in terms of the expected market share of advanced biofuels). There has been a history of overselling followed by disappointment and this has been damaging to the reputation of the sector.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?   

Celignis is based on important IP I developed during my PhD. I saw the commercial value of this and decided it should not just end with my thesis but be the basis for an important new entrant into the industry. I also saw that at the time there was no company that occupied the important niche of cellulosic analysis as a prime business focus.

Where are you from?

I was born in Birmingham, England.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?   

I attended the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, where I studied Environmental Science. That course included a year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which was the main reason at the time for me choosing that school and pathway! However, that course led to my appreciation of the bioeconomy and here I am!

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?   

My mother and father have been a great help. My father for showing by example how it is possible to be successful without compromising your integrity and how work can be a passion and not just a daily slog. My mother for continually reminding me, again by example, that while success is important what really matters is how you treat other people and care for your family.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?   

The first thing would be to stop and take a breath! Good decisions rarely come from a hot head. Sometimes it helps to leave the forest and take a good look at it from another angle. It also helps to bounce things off others who I trust. I have been very fortunate in that I have received a lot of advisory and moral support from a number of people during the start-up phase of Celignis.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry?   

Running a start-up company leaves little time for such things! But I like to keep fit during my free time and love to travel, which is something I can work into my job through attending biomass conferences around the globe!

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island.   

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, The Dark Tower

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?   

The Code Book, The Wasp Factory

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?   

Rio de Janeiro. I spent 2 years living in Brazil (Sao Paulo state) and 3 New Years Eves in Rio – great place for a party 🙂

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Category: Million Minds

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