Russell Bright, CEO at I-Phyc, tells us about wastewater treatment.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Russell Bright: My family is fine, thank you. I’m lucky to have a proper office at home, and have been locked away there since 17Mar20, and have left the house to go to face-to-face meetings only six times a year!
Tell us about you, your career, and how you Joined I-Phyc.
Russell Bright: I have been MD of 3-4 engineering technology companies and helped to greatly increase the value of the last one and sell it off, which resulted in a very nice payout. So at the age of 54, I was considering retiring, but I knew there was still more I wanted to do. So I became a portfolio NED, and my first NED Chairmanship was I-Phyc, where the investors soon asked me to step in as CEO. Although this was contrary to my life-plan, I-Phyc is doing something so great that I agreed to do it.
How does I-Phyc innovate?
Russell Bright: I-Phyc is based on a core team of world-leading algal scientists. We have developed technology to harness the natural power of algal to remove pollution from wastewater, and through this, we will help to clean up the world’s rivers, at the same time as locking away carbon and creating sustainable products; what can you not love about that!
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Russell Bright: Covid has hardly impacted I-Phyc, and we have continued pretty much as normal, except with 50% of us working from home.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Russell Bright: Covid has hardly impacted I-Phyc.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Russell Bright: Our customers are the water companies, and we have found they actually have slightly more time for us since they are less occupied with internal meetings. We have found zoom (and others) to be invaluable since we can meet in several different places around the country in a single day.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Russell Bright: We have made use of the CBILS loan scheme. This wasn’t critical for us but was a “nice to have.” We have not needed to use the furlough scheme since we have kept everyone working and have even been growing the team during Covid.
Your final thoughts?
Russell Bright: Algae has never been used in this way due to the limitations of existing technology. We have made two ground-breaking innovations so that it is now practical to remove Phosphorus, Ammonia, and a whole host of other contaminants from wastewater. I am extremely proud of the team and to part of this amazing journey with I-Phyc.