I was driving to the lab one morning when I heard a discussion on the radio. The discussion was about the effects of plastics on animal health, as well as environmental issues. I am sure I don’t need to talk ad nauseam about whales dying and the damage to other sea life. The pictures of the two sperm whales washed up recently with stomachs full of plastic shows the of the injustice and disgrace of plastic pollution in our seas far more than I can articulate. But the issues go further. Plastics which end up in the sewerage system and ultimately in ponds, rivers and seas does more than cause death by malnutrition or starvation, they can actively change the gender of fish.

Plasticisers used in the production of many common plastic items can leach into water over time. These can cause biological changes to male organisms, because the plasticisers can mimic the female hormone, oestrogen. When male organisms have elevated oestrogen, they begin to develop female characteristics. In the case of fish, it has been shown that male perch exposed to some of these chemicals are beginning to develop eggs. This is obviously not an ideal situation for these animals.

In fairness, plasticisers are not the only culprit. Hormone based medications can also have an effect. However, if we can at least reduce the amount of harmful waste causing damage to the environment by reducing the amount of traditional plastic that causes issues like the one just discussed, then surely that can only be a good thing.

 

 

Ryan Taylor

The past 6 months have progressed as a blur seen from a roller-coaster. CuanTec are on a high this morning. Last night we received the highest prize in Scottish Edge (Round 10) HIGGS section - £150,000 to spend on developing our business.

I can’t emphasise how much pride I feel at this. Often companies apply to Edge several times before winning any prize, so CuanTec going into that cohort and coming away with the top prize on our first try and after only being in operation since January is simply amazing.

The team pulled this together. It couldn’t have been done by any one of us alone. There have been additional helpers along the way working with graphics, filming the video, providing advice and nagging as required. Some of those people we hope will become integral to the team as we move forward.

To be honest the past 6 months have seen many highs and few lows. We are in a very fortunate place and have found tremendous goodwill from everyone we have met with so far. There is genuine interest and market pull for our product. So many people from related industries, potential partners and customers and the entrepreneurial support community have really gone that extra mile for us that we truly feel that we are working to create the right product in the right place at the right time.

However, it is not all luck. There has been a lot of planning, a lot of scientific and commercialisation skill brought to bear and a lot of hard work. The advantages of the product are easy to grasp, particularly in the setting of a circular economy story – but that story is only believable and can only provoke confidence if the team are also credible. Winning Edge provides us with the wonderful acknowledgement that we are a good team and have a bright future.

Friday 23rd June 2017, mark it in your diary. CuanTec have arrived.