Circa Group Pty Ltd
Bio21 Molecular Science
& Biotechnology Institute
30 Flemington Road, Parkville
VIC 3010 Australia
Twitter @circagroup

Tony Duncan
Chief Executive Officer

Warwick Raverty
Chief Scientist

c/o Bio 21, Flemington Road

+61 419 303 117

Circa Group is converting waste biomass into advanced biochemical materials.



The Federal Government is investing $1.5 million in Norske Skog’s plan to develop a world-first ‘green’ alternative to fossil-fuel-based solvents at its Boyer Mill in Tasmania

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The Norwegian-owned newsprint maker and Melbourne-based chemical technology R&D company Circa Group – headed by well-known industry identity Tony Duncan – are building a commercial demonstration plant at Boyer for Cyrene, a non-toxic and cleaner alternative to conventional solvents. Certified plantation softwood will be used to produce the bio-solvent.

Australia has the opportunity to establish a completely new biochemical industry based on renewable forestry resources and today’s announcement will help maintain the Cyrene project’s first mover status. Cyrene is an environmentally friendly, sustainably produced solvent that has the potential to replace fossil fuel based solvents that are currently used in the pharmaceutical and agrichemical industries around the world. We are very proud of the work being done at the Boyer Mill in conjunction with our joint venture partner, Circa Group, to commercialise the production of Cyrene. Today’s announcement is another very important step.
— Rod Bender, Norske Skog’s vice president of renewables and business development.

Circa CEO named Most Innovative Bioeconomy CEO of 2017

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA and YORK, UK - 7 December 2017. Tony Duncan, Circa CEO, has been voted the Most Innovative Bioeconomy CEO of 2017 by an international audience of bioeconomy experts.

Only the third recipient of the award, Tony is the second Australian winner – a coup for the world’s smallest continent, quietly proving its prowess in bioeconomy innovation.  

“Agriculture and Forestry have always been key industries in Australia, requiring ongoing innovation to compete on global markets. Promisingly for the bioeconomy, there is also strong support here for more sustainable industries,” explains Tony. “I am surprised and delighted to have been awarded this global accolade, and feel it is a true validation of Circa’s approach and team effort over the last nine years.”

Circa defines innovation to include both invention and commercialisation – key tenets in their success to date. In 2017 alone, the team established their 50 Tonne per year prototype in joint venture with Norske Skog and sealed a distribution agreement with Will & Co in key markets, while winning Bio-based Chemical Innovation of the Year for Cyrene in partnership with University of York and distributor Merck Sigma; and making it to the top three bio-based chemicals in the UK with Levoglucosenone.

2018 promises to be full of opportunities, with the commissioning of the prototype manufacturing plant, expected completion of their REACH VIII annex for Cyrene and a further string of exciting joint ventures.

“Importantly, this is our success, not just mine. To get here, it has taken dedicated staff, shareholders, stakeholders and partners. This joint approach is key to bioeconomy innovations: a new interdependence between organisations, built on mutual respect, high trust and an ability to look and work beyond next quarter’s results.”

Circa grants Will & Co exclusive Benelux distribution rights for Cyrene®

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA and YORK, UK – 8 November 2017. Circa Group Pty Ltd. and Will & Co B.V. have entered into an exclusive distribution agreement in Benelux for commercial quantities of Circa’s bio-based solvent and platform molecule Cyrene®.

“Our 50 tonnes per year prototype plant for producing Cyrene® is just coming online in Tasmania, and this distribution agreement with Will & Co is a major step forward to bringing our new product to Europe”, explains Tony Duncan, CEO of Circa. “We are excited to be entering this new partnership and are especially impressed with Will & Co’s track record of introducing new products to commercial markets and providing technical product advice to help clients adopt these new chemicals. “

The Benelux region, Will & Co’s home turf, comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, has a long history in the chemicals industry, going back as far as the 1500s[1]. Today, the regional chemical industry is worth more than €184 billion[2], and is home to both the largest integrated chemical cluster and refinery site in Europe.

In response to tightening regulations on the use of chemicals e.g. through REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) in Europe and similar regulatory forms across most major economies, high-performance bio-based chemicals, like Cyrene® are becoming increasingly sought-after by industry.  For instance, the Dutch paint and coatings industry, which accounts for more than 20% of the world’s coating production[3], is aiming for 50% bio-based materials by 2030[4].

Jacques van Lindonk, Managing Director of Will & Co comments, “We are very happy to add Circa’s bio-based Cyrene to our portfolio and we are sure that, their product combined with our know-how and support for production and product development, will make this a very successful collaboration in European markets.”

Cyrene® is made from waste sources of cellulose such as sawdust, with promising data showing it can outperform existing solvents.  As well as being highly functional, Cyrene® is a safer alternative to petrochemical based solvents such as DMF and NMP which are under severe regulatory pressure in both the European Union and North America.  These solvents are currently used in a wide variety of applications including polymers, membranes, lithium ion battery production, printing ink and coating formulations, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and electronic chemicals. This latest distribution deal, complements existing agreements with Merck Sigma for research and development quantities world-wide.

1 The Chemical Industry in the Benelux Countries (1958)

2 Chemical sector information: Belgium – Essencia 2014, Netherlands – Delta Lloyd 2013, Luxembourg – Statistica 2015