It's Our Birthday!

 

“3 years is a long time in business – at least the first 3 years are – hard work, emotionally and mentally tough, but very worthwhile.

90% of new businesses fail, and 60% of them collapse in the first 3 years – but here we are, still here and still making a noise about our ambitions and achievements. CuanTec is growing, succeeding and building a reputation as a leader in Circular Economy solutions and BioEconomy technologies.”


Cait Murray-Green, CEO, CuanTec

 

It really does feel amazing to say this – today is the 3rd anniversary of opening our first ever lab space. We have come a long way in that short space of time and looking back over our achievements so far fills us all with a great sense of pride and invigorates us for the challenges yet to come.

On 9th January 2017 we began with 3 employees in an empty lab in MediCity, Glasgow. Now, we have 2 equipped labs across Glasgow and Oban with 13 employees including 8 fantastic full-time laboratory scientists.

The ability to move so quickly has been largely due to support from several investors. We have won substantial funding from many different sources, including HIGGS Edge award (Scottish Edge) Sky Ocean Ventures, Scottish Investment Bank and most recently Co-innovate, administered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

In late summer 2018, we caught the attention of one of the UK’s largest supermarkets after winning John Lewis and Partners pitching competition, JLAB. The support from Waitrose has been invaluable for bringing our product forward. We are very excited to continue working with them over the next year and bring CuanSave to market by 2021.

 

Cait presenting our CuanSave prototypes to HRH Prince Charles after our success at JLAB competition

"Waitrose wish CuanTec a Happy 3rd Birthday. We're delighted to have been able to work with them on an exciting development - a new film for food packaging potentially made out of waste langoustine shells.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with CuanTec and celebrating our successes together in the future."   

- Nikki Grainge, Partner and Packaging Development Manager, Waitrose

 

2019 saw us being recognized as Research Business and Start Up of the Year by the Herald Pioneer Awards. Over the past few years we have been awarded quite a few awards including Best Blue Biotechnology 2018 at Scottish Enterprise Awards and winning the Innovation award at the Nature of Scotland Award in the same year. We are hugely proud of our achievements and are delighted when other people recognize this too, especially when you consider the tough competition we have been up against. Looking forward, we have already been nominated in the Scottish Rural Awards 2020 for in the Innovation Category.

                                      

Some of our award successes through the years, and our finalist badge for the upcoming Scottish Rural Awards 

 We’ve caught the attention of the press, featuring on BBC Scotland (news), BBC Alba (news), STV (news) and Channel 4 (Food Unwrapped). We’ve also been in a number of publications including the Financial Times, The Scotsman, The National, British Plastics and Rubber Magazine, Impakter and The Advocate (part of GAA) just to name a few.

"It’s been tremendously exciting to cover CuanTec’s first years. The company has a strong story and a promising future – something I’ll be following closely as plastic pollution and sustainability battles become more urgent. CuanTec is passionate about its work and about communicating the science behind it to the layperson. That’s something else that helps set this innovative company apart and I can’t wait to see what the future brings."

- Kirsteen Paterson, The National 

 

Over the years we have built up relationships with many other small businesses across the UK such as Inverawe Smoke House, Fabulous Fish and FloGro Systems. Collaboration is vital to our business model and ethos of creating a circular economy. For example, FloGro Systems send us the shells shed from their prawns which we will formulate in packaging for them to then sell the prawns in – a great example of how businesses can work together in sharing knowledge and resources to find the value in ‘waste’ products and reuse it for another purpose.

 

"CuanTec is a brilliant example of scientific design providing an innovative solution to one of our biggest challenges amidst the climate change emergency debate! Their invention of a new material which can be used to create biodegradable plastic is the kind of progress which could entirely revolutionise the packaging industry by helping to use food waste from langoustines to create a solution to the single use plastics crisis. Thinking differently through design – whether it be engineering, scientific, product, systems or more conventional design – is going to be instrumental in helping generate new circular economy solutions and business models as we work towards a more sustainable economic growth approach which helps to combat the climate emergency.  Examples like this are just what is needed and we look forward to seeing many more new scientific design solutions emerging as CuanTec scale their business!"

-Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

 

The past 3 years have been phenomenal. There have been many challenges along the way that we have overcome and have made our successes that much more enjoyable. Looking forward 2020 is set to be another incredible year. We are set to finalise our formulation, complete our first scale up, open our pilot plant and begin production. We will be sending our finalised product for all relevant industry testing to ensure accreditation for the quality and health and safety of our product. This will lead to the creation of new jobs across our two current sites and at our pilot plant – watch out for further announcements! We also have a number of international events coming up such as conferences in Germany, China and potentially Canada.

 

“We are very proud to continue to support Cuantec’s mission to solve the plastic waste crisis through innovation over the next decade!

-Jamie Rowles, Head of Investment, Sky Ocean Ventures

    

Cait presenting at Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019 along with Jamie Rowles from Sky Ocean Ventures. 

CuanTec along with the other companies Sky Ocean Ventures is working with to reduced plastic pollution.

 

We’d like to thank all supporters of CuanTec. From those who donated to our crowd funding, business investors, employee’s past and present and the public who believe it what we do and want us to succeed. We have a lot of work still to do in our mission to cut down on plastic pollution by replacing single use plastic food packaging. The next 12 months will be a lot of hard work, but we are ready. We are ready for the challenges, from overcoming technical issues to convincing huge corporations that their ‘take, make, dispose’ models are wrong and circular economies are the responsible way of moving forward. We are ready to help clean up our oceans and try to reverse the damages caused by human’s irresponsible activities. We are ready to promote new innovations to tackle climate change.

We’re ready to fight to protect our earth. We’re ready to make plastic pollution history. Are you?

 

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As a newly formed company with a clear and strong ethos, CuanTec wanted to ensure that our values were engrained throughout its growth. To do this, we sought out the help of post doc Alexia Mellor. Alexia was brought on board to help take the themes that CuanTec believes in and help integrate them into our company culture and create our constitution.

Dr. Alexia Mellor recently completed an Arts and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Innovation Placement from Newcastle University where she worked with CuanTec to explore how arts and design methods and perspectives might help the company to critically think about how it might develop and sustain a company culture that reflects its core values and aims within the circular economy and reducing plastic pollution.

One of the aspirations that CEO Dr Cait Murray-Green has for CuanTec is to have shared ideas and effective communication imbedded throughout the company and continue to be at its heart as the company grows. This is a challenge that many start-up companies face when they are fortunate enough to develop, to grow their teams, and to encounter new and exciting opportunities.

After spending time with members of staff across the different areas of the company, Alexia developed a bespoke toolkit, The CuanTec Courier, which can be used throughout CuanTec’s evolution. The kit is designed to support team members in identifying core values, and how to ensure that these are central to all operations – from hiring procedures, to public engagement, to how suppliers are selected. It can be used within small team meetings, planning sessions, as well as within team away days. The CuanTec Courier uses the framework of storytelling to help team members imagine, visualise and dream big, while then creating specific action steps to achieving their goals.

We have only recently received the tool kit and are very excited to put it to use. We believe this will be very useful in allowing team members to think a bit differently from their everyday jobs and work through problems in a productive, creative way.

CuanTec would like to offer a huge thanks to Alexia for all of her hard work in creating this kit and helping us to think about how, as a company, we can implement our core values throughout the business as we continue to grow. We wish her lots of success on her future endeavours!

If you have been following CuanTec, you will know that the past few months have been quite hectic – even by our standards! From international events to more local engagements, we have been busy talking about the business and values that we hold dear such as creating a zero-waste process within a circular economy. Our biggest announcement was our investment from Sky Ocean Ventures and Scottish Enterprise, allowing us to really move into our next phase of development.

Securing the investment took a lot of hard work from many different people. In order to mark the accomplishment and thank the wonderful staff and supporters of the company, Team CuanTec enjoyed a day away and overnight at Loch Melfort Hotel near Oban.

This was a fantastic way to get everyone who has been involved so far together, as well as introduce our new starts to members of the team who they do not see regularly (as the company is based across two sites and has a number of home-based staff). Starting with a tour of the Oban Whisky Distillery, the team learned all about the history of the distillery and how the whisky is produced with a wee dram at the end to sample the famous Oban 14. Drivers were even given theirs in a glass screw-top bottle, so they didn’t have to miss out!