Our People

Management Team

Tim Merrell


Tim co-founded Olixol and has been CEO since 2014. His career has been spent in the IT and software industries commencing with marketing roles at Apple Computer and then Lotus Corporation. In the mid-nineties, Tim co-founded a Silicon Valley VC backed start-up that developed the first graphical web editor, PageMill, that was acquired by Adobe. On returning to the UK, Tim led the turnaround of a legal software business. He then went on to co-found and subsequently sell bSure a specialist online hazardous materials testing and training provider to the insurance and construction industries. Prior to Olixol he structured a number of successful technology off-shoring deals, in particular, the build, operating and transfers of large software development and support centres in Bangalore and Hyderabad, India.

Claire Poll

COO & General Counsel

Claire is the COO and General Counsel of Olixol and has over 25 years’ experience as a lawyer specialising in intellectual property advising clients across a range of industries, including oil and gas, pharmaceutical, publishing, computer games, IT and finance. During her time in private practice she was elected to the firm’s Management Board overseeing operations, marketing and strategy. Before joining Olixol Claire was Global Head of Group IP Legal at Barclays where she established and led the team that advised all the worldwide different businesses, such as Barclays Capital, Barclaycard, and Barclays Bank. Claire holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, is a New York Attorney and a CEDR qualified mediator.

Dr Peter Whitton

Chief Scientist

Peter is recognised as a leader in the field of plant cell culturing and research, having provided advisory services to pharmaceutical companies such as GSK and Boots on regulatory strategy, as well as directing research and providing toxicology advice to Pfizer. Prior to co-founding Olixol Peter ran and managed his own research organisation, Phyto-Research Ltd for five years and secured a number of patents in the field of plant tissue cultures and natural sciences. He has a PhD in Biochemistry and is a member of the Institute of Biology and a Chartered Biologist, a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

Non-Executive Directors

Jan Petzel

Jan is the Managing Partner of Eldon Capital, an investment and advisory firm focused on international growth investments and buy-out opportunities. Prior to launching Eldon, he was a Managing Director in the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, ultimately responsible for private credit in Germany and Scandinavia. Whilst at Goldman he served on the board of several successful companies including Cognis GmbH, a worldwide supplier of specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients, up to its sale to BASF for €3.1bn in 2010.

Jan commenced his career as a consultant to the technology sector for McKinsey & Company working in the United States, Europe and Asia. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Master of Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and was a Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Brendan Cluff

Brendan is a Venture Capitalist at Endeavour Ventures, and has more than ten years’ experience as a financial adviser and fundraiser. He has played a key role in fundraising for a wide number of quoted and unquoted companies through Endeavour, and specialised is post-Seed, pre-Series A funding for manufacturing and technology companies.

Originally from Australia, Brendan has worked in both the public and private sector, including a period working for the Department of Defence. He has a degree in Commerce and Asian studies from the Australian National University and speaks Japanese.

Oliver Downie

Oliver is a solicitor at Russells, a leading law firm in London in the music and entertainment sectors. Oliver advises on a broad range of specialisms, although he has particular focus on commercial contracts, commercial and intellectual property litigation and contentions and non-contentious employment work.  Oliver assists the Olixol management team with general risk management and ensuring effective corporate governance of the board as the company continues to develop and grow.

Peter Black

Peter is senior partner of the civil department of Hughmans Solicitors ,a city based boutique law firm, with some 40 years of experience. He specializes in civil litigation and commercial work and features in Spears 500. Peter has been both an investor and an advisor in a number of early stage companies.

Advisory Board

Dr Antonio Trius

Antonio became the CEO of Cognis, a worldwide supplier of speciality chemicals and nutritional ingredients, a stand-alone business unit of Henkel Kga. Antonio stayed on as CEO after its sale to a consortium of Permira, GS Capital Partners & SV Life Sciences in 2001, until its subsequent sale to BASF in 2010 for an enterprise value of €3.1 billion. At the time of its sale to BASF, Cognis employed 5,600 people, operated in over 30 countries and had revenues of €3 billion. Antonio currently sits on a number of Boards including Lonza Group Ltd, Mauser Group BV, Azelis SA and Altana AG.

Antonio holds a Bachelor in Organic Chemistry from the University of Barcelona, a PhD in Chemistry from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a PDD in Business Administration from the IESE Barcelona.

Dr Karlheinz Hill

Karlheinz holds a PHD from the University of Würzburg and commenced his career as a research fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Moving to industry, he worked as a research chemist at Henkel in Düsseldorf, Germany, and Santa Rosa, CA, focusing on oleo- and surfactant chemistry. He was awarded the Wöhler prize in 2000 by the German Chemical Society (GDCh).for his work on the industrial development of alkyl polyglycosides. Karlheinz is an experienced senior executive in R&D management and leadership within the specialty chemicals industry. For the past six years he led the global development organization of BASF’s personal care business. Prior to that, since 2001, Karlheinz led the global personal and home care R&D and application technology at Cognis Care Chemicals.

Francesco Ferlaino

Francesco spent 28 years with the L’Oreal group. He began at L’Oreal overseeing sales for the Consumer Products Division of L’Oreal Canada, working his way General Manager of the Division then ultimately to CEO of L’Oreal Canada in 1996. During his tenure as CEO, he oversaw the acquisition/introduction of a number of new brands and the restructuring of the manufacturing and distribution activities. During that time, L’Oreal Canada not only became the leading cosmetic company in Canada but was also one of the most profitable countries in the L’Oreal Group. Between 2000 and 2004 Francesco served as President and CEO of L’Oreal Brazil with a clear mission to accelerate growth through internal and external activities. During his tenure L’Oreal Brazil became a high profile and strategic subsidiary of the L’Oreal Group.

Francesco holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Montreal and a MBA from the Bordeaux Ecole de Management, today known as Kedge Business School. Currently, Francesco and his wife own and operate a vineyard and winery in Tuscany, Italy where they have been producing award-winning wines since 2005.

Hugo Bovill

Hugo spent 36 years at Treatt Plc a supplier of ingredients to the flavour, fragrance and cosmetic sectors in over 90 countries. During his time as CEO, Hugo successfully floated the company on the London Stock Exchange in order to finance further expansion. He successfully transitioned the business from a trading company to a manufacturing company and grew sales from £8m to £75m via mostly organic growth. He was a member of the Executive committee of IFEAT (International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades) for 20 years,serving as Chairman and President between 1998-2003. He has also held senior positions on other trade bodies, including the British Essential Oil Association and the UK Flavour Association.

Since 2012 Hugo has been an independent consultant retained by a varied range of international clients with annual sales ranging $5m to $1bn USD.

Howard Russell

Howard is an advisor, director and investor in a number of early stage companies. Previously he was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, with over 16 years experience in risk management and financing for Private Equity and Corporate clients. Mr Russell graduated from Bristol University with a BSc (Hons) in Economics, after serving as an Officer in the British Army.