CuanTec, based in Motherwell and Oban, has completed an investment round for an undisclosed sum with Sky Ocean Ventures and Scottish Enterprise that will enable it to process at pilot production scale and finalise its formulations.
The company uses a gentle fermentation method to extract chitin, a naturally occurring biopolymer, from langoustine shells. This is then converted into chitosan, which CuanTec uses for an antimicrobial, compostable food contact material.
40% shelf-life gain
CuanTec has put a layer of chitosan on standard PET/PE laminate packaging and extended the shelf-life of salmon by 40%. It is currently working on gaining the same shelf-life extension from the fully-home compostable packaging film.
A by-product of the process is a protein-rich liquor containing a natural source of the salmon colourant astaxanthin. CuanTec is hoping the liquor can be utilised in salmon feed.
The company’s chief executive, Cait Murray-Green, said the funding round allowed CuanTec to keep to its target of producing its product in around 18 months’ time.
“We will be into production as soon as we can achieve regulatory approval, which we anticipate will be early 2021,” said Murray-Green.
The funding round has been led by Sky Ocean Ventures (SOV) – Sky Media’s impact investment fund committed to accelerating ideas that can help turn off the plastics tap - and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
Murray-Green said: “We are delighted by the support of Sky Ocean Ventures and Scottish Enterprise. Increasingly the investment community has also taken up the challenge and SOV has proven to be a valuable partner who believe strongly in our team and in what we are trying to achieve – to make plastic pollution history.”
She added that the funding would allow the company to rapidly move from a team of 10 to a team of 15.
“The main lab work is done in Oban and we have a small lab in Motherwell, and that will expand more during 2020.”
SOV’s head of investment, Jamie Rowles, said: “We are excited to support the next phase of CuanTec’s development, alongside Scottish Enterprise, on the company’s journey to embed their formulations into the packaging of fresh produce.
“We have developed a strong relationship with the team over the last six months, and their strong passion and desire to develop sustainable solutions to single use packaging is unmatched.”
Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank: “This deal represents an exciting progression in the growth of CuanTec and will enable the company to scale up production.
“We are delighted to support the company, alongside Sky Ocean Ventures, as it continues to innovate and develop products with the potential of addressing the problems of plastic pollution and food waste.”