New ways that the food and drink industry can tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges were revealed in the shortlist for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies competition.
Ten early-stage companies and academic entrepreneurs who want to commercialise their technologies were named in the competition’s food and drink category, including several eco-friendly solutions for food waste, sustainable crop production, brain-boosting ingredients and botanical extraction.
Now in its seventh year, the competition brings cutting-edge science to the real world for the benefit of society. Previous winners have gone on to raise a combined total of more than £32m in equity investment and grant funding, with one company subsequently being sold for £28m. Winners also have expanded overseas, entered commercial contracts, conducted clinical and industrial scale trials and collectively doubled their staff.
The Emerging Technologies competition will take place at the industry’s annual flagship conference: Chemistry Means Business. Around 250 scientists, entrepreneurs and professionals will attend the gathering of chemistry innovators at the QEII Conference Centre in London on 28 and 29 October. The finalists will showcase their innovations during the day before the winners are revealed during the evening awards dinner.
“We’ve been bowled over yet again by how strong the entrants are,” says Aurora Antemir, Royal Society of Chemistry Industry Manager: “We’re certain it’s going to be another special occasion celebrating some of the most novel chemistry in the UK and Europe.”
Julie Dimakou, Principal Consultant at PA Consulting Group and who joins the judging panel for the food and drink category for 2019, said: “I was impressed by the high quality of entries this year and look forward to seeing them present at Chemistry Means Business.”
The eight winners of the competition will receive £/€ 10,000, support from competition partners (Unilever, Pfizer, Johnson Matthey, RSSL and Croda) and intensive business and pitch training at Cambridge Judge Business school.
The competition is free to apply and welcomes applicants from the UK and Europe whose technology has a strong component of chemistry, in one of these categories:
- Energy & environment
- Food & drink
- Enabling technologies
Among the finalists:
Cambond Ltd has developed 100% plant-based packaging for use in general food packaging and for containers used in the takeaway industry. The technology provides waterproof, heat proof and safe containers for hot meals that are free of oil based plastics and layers and are able to be composted at home after use.
Glaia, Bristol, UK
Glaia’s mission is to provide solutions for a more sustainable future. It has developed a revolutionary patented technology to boost crop yields – the first-of-its-kind in terms of composition, mode of action and yield increase (20% in wheat). The water-soluble sugar-based material enhances plant photosynthesis, improving performance.
The team at the university has developed screen printed RFID (radio-frequency identification) antennas using a graphene ink formulation for use in food packaging. The labels are non-toxic, flexible and meet the electrical conductivity requirements for NFC applications. The graphene antenna can operate from MHz to GHz frequency range in devices using conventional Si chips and other non-conventional flexible chips.
Mimica Touch is a next generation food expiry label that both reduces food waste and improves food safety by providing an accurate, real-time indication of the product’s freshness. The label is low-cost enough to be deployed on any package across the supply chain, from production to the consumer’s fridge.
Zero Waste Biotech Limited, Belfast, UK
ZWB has developed the Aero-D, a unit which can be installed within any commercial kitchen and converts food waste into clean renewable energy in just 24. The Aero-D reduces CO2 emissions by 91 tons per year per unit.