The Varicon Aqua Team

Mr Joe McDonald, Managing Director / Owner

Joe McDonald has 30 years of multidisciplinary experience, with principle interests in aquatic biotechnology. He has expertise ranging from finfish cultivation to behavioural ecology and algal population dynamics. Earlier in his career he was a director of the British Marine Finfish Association and assistant Chair of the Orkney Fish Farmers Association. Subsequently he worked throughout Asia and managed both technical and sales teams. This work has given him an expansive outlook on business opportunities and he has developed extensive commercial relationships globally. In his current position as managing director of Varicon Aqua Solutions he has successfully deployed a range of photobioreactor platforms in 160 locations across the globe. He is a biologist and member of the Bio-Based Products Working Group of the British Standards Institute (BSI). Mr. McDonald has over 25 years of experience in developing systems and techniques for mass culture of various species of algae and production of algae-based products. He has extensive technical sales and marketing expertise in the algal-culture, aquaculture, and nutraceutical markets.

Dr Marco Lizzul, Innovation Manager

Marco Lizzul has an interdisciplinary background grounded within the life sciences, having undertaken a BSc in Biochemistry at the University of York. This was followed by an MRes in Molecular Plant Biology and Biotechnology at Imperial College London. He completed an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) at University College London, where his thesis entitled ‘Integrated Algal Production’ centred on combining biological, economic and engineering approaches to the development of lower cost algal production strategies. During his doctorate he designed, constructed and helped commercialise the Phyco-Lift airlift photobioreactor system. He also developed a range of models integrating algal production and economic factors to help make informed decisions about large scale production platforms and processes. Marco has published peer reviewed literature within fields allied to algal biotechnology, photobioreactor design and process modelling. Recently this has included two book chapters on photobioreactor design principles. His research to date has been supported by both the EPSRC and Innovate UK; and was recognised for its potential importance to future UK economic activity with an Industrial Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. His  current role as Innovation Manager at Varicon Aqua allows him to liaise directly with clients to specify production systems and platforms, whilst also developing novel products and technologies for the marketplace.

Mr Ned Pamukov, Project Management

Nedulin Pamukov qualified from the Thracian Agricultural University in Bulgaria with a degree in agricultural economics. He has worked in the UK agricultural sector for 11 years, specialising in indoor crops and production systems. He later went on to manage his own fruit production company, where he developed experience in pesticides and irrigation line construction, as well as glasshouse/poly-tunnel construction and maintenance. Since working with microalgae he has developed a practical interdisciplinary skill set and manages all parts of the photobioreactor procurement, manufacture and installation process.

Ms Janet Serra, Accounts and Office Manager

Janet Serra, a highly qualified and efficient office and accounts manager. Responsible for the day to day operations of the business. A highly skilled communicator, Fluent in German and Italian, Janet’s ability to resolve issues across continents and cultures is invaluable to the business.