A Strathclyde start-up which converts shellfish industry waste into high-value, chitin-based products, including biodegradable food wrap, has secured significant investment from one of the UK’s largest renewable energy and cleantech project developers.
Hive Energy Ltd has acquired a majority share in CuanTec, which has developed a new way to extract the biopolymer chitosan from the discarded shellfish waste from fisheries for use in the eco-friendly products. First products include biodegradable, recyclable and anti-microbial packaging to replace single use plastics while helping to extend the shelf life of various foods.
Chitin, a biopolymer, is a polymer found in nature, such as starch or proteins, which can have a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries.
Shellfish waste creates environmental damage by either being sent to landfill or incinerated, emitting tonnes of damaging CO2 into the environment. CuanTec’s technologies use a novel environmentally friendly method to process the waste to produce valuable, high-quality chitin, with no CO2 emissions. The process uses 66% less electricity compared to traditional extraction processes.
The company plans to produce chitin by the autumn of this year, with expansion plans in the UK and globally.
CuanTec was founded at the University and has been supported by the Strathclyde Inspire Entrepreneurs Fund (SIEF). The fund provides investments of up to £100,000 alongside third-party, lead investors to University-related enterprises by students, staff and alumni. The University remains a shareholder in the company alongside other investors and fellow partners, including Scottish Enterprise.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Through the Strathclyde Inspire programme, the University supports and encourages entrepreneurship for all, empowering our staff, students and alumni to transform the lives of others in society. To enable our mission of delivering a global impact, we directly invest in companies – helping them in their growth journey through multiple investment funds from start-up to scale-up stages.
“We are proud to have been champions of CuanTec from its inception and we look forward to continuing our support for the company in its journey towards commercialisation of green products with its vision to utilise food waste to remove single-use plastics towards contributing to Scotland’s Net Zero targets . “
Craig Sterling, CEO and Director of CuanTec, said: “The University of Strathclyde has been extremely important in helping get CuanTec to this point in its development. Strathclyde’s belief in our team and our technology through their direct investment and ongoing support have been fantastic tools to really help move us forward.
“They have a great team who have always made themselves available whenever we have needed their assistance.”
Hive Energy CEO, Giles Redpath, said: “I’d like to thank the initial investors who had the vision to see the potential for CuanTec. I look forward now to working with the team to help take the business to the next stage.”