Ivan Wood and Sons Limited is a family business with a difference: working in partnership with Abertay University, it has transformed new regulation into a business opportunity.
As a company which prepares and supplies fresh and pre-prepared fruit and vegetables to the catering trade, Ivan Wood and Sons faced the same challenge as many others in the industry - the Waste (Scotland) Regulations preventing non-rural businesses which produce food waste from depositing it in a public drain or sewer.
"Knowledge Transfer Partnership brings together industry and academics. These Partnerships are a great opportunity to help businesses improve their competitiveness."
In response, the company has developed a solution in the form of a new basic filtering system concept which recovers starch before disposing of waste water.
The company’s innovative approach was recognised through the 2016 Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards, in which they were shortlisted in the ‘Innovation of the Year’ category.
This system could potentially be used by a wide range of food businesses such as fish and chip shops or other prepared vegetable suppliers. In order to develop the filtering system into a saleable product, further development was required.
This is where Abertay was able to step in and assist in the development process. With its interdisciplinary approach, the University was ideally placed to conduct this research by bringing together the expertise of its teams working in food technology and water treatment for maximum research capability.
The project – which was funded through a UK government scheme – enabled a ‘Knowledge Transfer Associate’ (KTA) to be appointed. The KTA, based at Ivan Wood and Sons Ltd but jointly supervised by the University and company, is developing and testing the starch removal process so that it can be commercialised.
"Working with Abertay has allowed the company to open many doors that once were normally closed to industry."
Dr Jonathan Wilkin, Lecturer in the Division of Food and Drink at Abertay University said: “The Knowledge Transfer Partnership brings together industry and academics. These Partnerships are a great opportunity to help businesses improve their competitiveness.”
As well as the environmental benefits of the new system, the research has created two new business opportunities: sale of the new filtration system in response to the demand created by businesses faced with the new Regulations and the opportunity for developing new ranges of vegetable, and vegetable-based stocks using the recovered starch.
Malcolm Wood of Malcolm Wood & Sons said: “Working with Abertay has allowed the company to open many doors that once were normally closed to industry.
"We have our Knowledge Transfer Associate working alongside the company and the University to establish new products and help with the developments of the new filtration system.”
Dr Wilkin said: “The project has provided an excellent example of how Abertay’s interdisciplinary approach to research can provide solutions to real issues. This project will also contribute to the development of research within Abertay and will generate academic publications in both food processing and waste treatment fields.”
Abertay University works with a wide range of businesses on food and drink innovation, through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, studentships and consultancy.
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