21st Century - Chemistry

Florence Gschwend

Florence Gschwend is a Swiss chemical engineer and Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow at Imperial College London. She is the founder and CEO of Lixea[1] (formerly Chrysalix Technologies), a spin-out company that commercialises wood fractionation to enable a circular bioeconomy.

Education and early career

Gschwend was born in Switzerland. She attended the Gymnasium Bäumlihof in Basel and was awarded the Novartis Maturanden Prize.[2] She studied chemistry at the University of Basel, graduating in 2011. She was an intern in Syngenta and West Pomeranian University of Technology.[3] She joined Imperial College London to complete a Masters of Research in Green Chemistry, looking at ionic liquid droplets for nanoreactors.[3] She remained there for her doctoral studies, and was a member of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment working with Jason Hallett and Paul Fennell.[3] Her PhD looked at how chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated wood could be used as a raw material for bio-refining using ionic liquids.[3] During her research she worked at the Joint BioEnergy Institute at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working on hydrothermal liquefaction of algae.[3] She was a runner-up at the 2016 Althea Imperial program for women entrepreneurs, securing £10,000 funding to develop her PhD project into a business.[4][5]


Gschwend is interested in how we can turn waste wood into renewable chemicals and fuels.[6] She was awarded the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Change Award (€15,000) for her research project, conditioning biomass to use it to produce bioethanol and bioplastics.[7][8][9] Gschwend was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship in 2017.[10] She was awarded a Future in Engineering Award.[11] She was named in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017.[12] She was featured in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Pioneer showcase.[13] She joined Agnieszka Brandt-Talbot to apply for the Lean Launchpad for Synthetic Biology.[14] In May 2018 Gschwend was selected as one of Information Age’s Future Stars of Tech.[15] She has discussed her work on the podcast The Sustainable Jungle.[16]


Alongside Jason Hallett and Agnieszka Brandt-Talbot, Gschwend is part of Lixea, formerly Chrysalix Technologies.[17] In 2017 Chrysalix Technologies was awarded the Royal Society Translation Award to scale-up their research into the ways that ionic liquids can be used to treat wood biomass.[18] They formally founded Chrysalix Technologies in June 2017.[19] The technology is protected by three patents, including BioFlex and Ionosolv, which can separate lignin and hemicellulose from wood.[20][21] The Chief Scientific Officer, Agnieszka Brandt-Talbot, is an Imperial College London Research Fellow working on lignin.[20] They have secured funding from Climate-KIC and the European Investment Bank.[22][23] They are carrying out work at the Biobase Europe plant in Ghent.[22]


  1. ^ “Lixea”.
  2. ^ “INWED18: Tips for success from a chemical engineering entrepreneur – Department of Chemical Engineering”Department of Chemical Engineering. 2018-06-23. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e “Home – Dr Florence Gschwend”www.imperial.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  4. ^ “Water filtration innovation wins 2016 Althea-Imperial prize | Imperial News | Imperial College London”Imperial News. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  5. ^ “Taking the waste out of waste wood”Climate & Environment at Imperial. 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  6. ^ “Women from Imperial College are finding innovative energy solutions | Sustainable Gas Institute”www.sustainablegasinstitute.org. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  7. ^ “A cleaner world with biofue” (PDF). EIT. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  8. ^ EIT European Institute of Innovation and Technology (2017-10-17), Florence Gschwend – EIT Climate KIC, EIT Change Award 2017 winner, retrieved 2018-10-29
  9. ^ Neumann, Christine (2017-10-18). “EIT Health takes three of four EIT Awards – EIT Health Germany”EIT Health Germany. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  10. ^ “Enterprise Fellowships – Current and recent awards”RAEng. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  11. ^ “Addressing Global Grand Challenges”RAEng. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  12. ^ “Florence Gschwend”Forbes. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  13. ^ “EPSRC Pioneer”EPSRC. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  14. ^ “Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology Alumni Part 2 | Blog | SynbiCITE”www.synbicite.com. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  15. ^ “Future Stars of Tech – finalists revealed”Information Age. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  17. ^ “Chrysalis Technologies: A Start-up”Ella Walding. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  18. ^ “Imperial researcher wins £50,000 award to commercialise research | Imperial News | Imperial College London”Imperial News. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  19. ^ “Lixea Limited – Overview”. Companies House. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  20. Jump up to:a b “Launch of Imperial spinout Chrysalix Technologies”www.imperialinnovations.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  21. ^ Process for the extraction of metal pollutants from treated cellulosic biomass, 2016-11-21, retrieved 2018-10-29
  22. Jump up to:a b “Chrysalix Technologies’ sustainable innovation could replace the petrochemicals industry – Climate-KIC”Climate-KIC. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  23. ^ Florence Gschwend (2017-03-31), Chrysalix pitch Climate Launchpad Tallinn 2016, retrieved 2018-10-29

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *