University of Oxford spin-out HydRegen has been revealed as the winner of a programme designed to recognise innovations in planetary health created by Pioneer Group in partnership with CPI.

The 2024 Golden Ticket programme was open to hydrogen and climate technology companies that are innovating solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face, and is backed by funding from the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII) – a trusted group of organisations working with industry, government, and academia to create an investible, globally competitive hydrogen technology and services sector in the UK.

Successful applicants were invited to join virtual venture development workshops and six shortlisted companies were selected to pitch for the grand prize on 27 March 2024 as part of a wider Planetary Health event run by Pioneer.

Judges from a range of organisations including Innovate UK, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and Tees Valley Combined Authority, as well as Pioneer and CPI, selected HydRegen, pitched by its COO Dr Matthew Hodges, as the winning team.

HydRegen is a biotechnology company that enables more sustainable chemical synthesis and manufacturing by replacing toxic, heavy-metal catalysts in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, utilising hydrogen as a feedstock within their processes. HydRegen’s biotechnologies operate under mild reaction conditions, minimising waste and operating in continuous flow. As a spinout company from the Department of Chemistry (University of Oxford), HydRegen is commercialising a biotechnology from the group of Professor Kylie Vincent.

As the overall winner of the Golden Ticket programme, HydRegen will receive:

  • 12 months of venture development support with Pioneer
  • Ongoing, bespoke scale-up and innovation support with CPI, including tailored grant landscape review, bid development, technical consultancy and advice, and innovation support, one-to-one technology advisory sessions and use of test facilities
  • Use of incubation space at Pioneer’s Wilton Centre alongside scale-up work

Holly Reeve, HydRegen CEO (pictured) says: “We are delighted to win the Golden Ticket award. Access to incubation and support at such a prominent site with so much expertise and specialist facilities for biotech and hydrogen related scale-ups will fast-track our growth over the coming months.” 

Lisa Thomas, Director & Venture Development Partner at Pioneer, says: “Through our partnership with CPI, it has been a privilege to see the depth and breadth of hydrogen technologies in development across the UK, with HydRegen being a shining example and a worthy winner of this programme. Hydrogen and green tech companies are bringing opportunities to transform our industrial approach and counter the negative impact humans have on the planet. Through Pioneer Group’s programmes and incubation spaces, we aim to maximise the impact of these companies and allow them to focus on their science.”

CPI, part of the wider High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) headquartered at Pioneer’s Wilton Centre, is part of the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII), which is a collaboration between seven of the nine UK catapults and four non-catapult partners. Together with CPI, Pioneer Group works with deep-tech businesses of all sizes to help turn ideas into commercial applications by addressing the gap between technology concepts and commercialisation.

Ian Smith, Head of Investment Partnerships at CPI, says: “As consortium members of the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative, we wanted to bring together a programme of activity that enables us to support hydrogen technology development. Pioneer has deep expertise in venture development, experience in running accelerator programmes, and offers high-quality incubation space, making them the perfect programme partner to help us facilitate these aims and build a cohort of hydrogen companies.”

Based in the Tees Valley and one of Europe’s largest R&D sites, the Wilton Centre is home to a number of growing businesses working in circle economy, life sciences, sustainable processing, and manufacturing technology.

Ian adds: “The Tees Valley has huge ambitions – to become the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040. Being home to one of the biggest industrial clusters in Europe, it is an obvious location to lead the UK’s net zero ambitions.” To find out more about the Wilton Centre, visit: