Materials / Organic / QC chemist


A role has become available for an enthusiastic chemist to join CuanTec’s facility at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology, near Oban.


CuanTec is a blue biotechnology company, established in January 2017, who is seeking to expand its highly motivated workforce.  CuanTec is made up of a small but innovative team who are dedicated to the pioneering use of food waste to reduce landfill waste.  We work first-hand with the fisheries industry, diverting their food by-products from landfill and creating chitinous based food preserving agents such as preservative dips and anti-bacterial compostable bio-plastic packaging.  Ultimately tackling the ever-expanding issue of waste food and single-use plastics.


At present CuanTec is a young company that is rapidly moving forward into production. In light of the current state of development of CuanTec Ltd applicants would be expected to manage a multi-disciplinary role within this small company and embrace the challenges of working in a fast-paced changing environment. The applicant should be enthusiastic and relish a challenge.


CuanTec would like to appoint a Senior Chemist, with relevant industry background, to undertake duties in formulation, product development, QC and production of a biodegradable / compostable plastic alternative food-packaging derived from waste chitin.



As the industrial chemist you would have the following key responsibilities:



Product Development


  • At present the single application of chitosan is for food packaging; this may widen out into other applications in the future; the successful candidate would be expected to take on product development responsibilities within CuanTec’s R&D laboratories
  • Assist in chitosan conversion and deacetylation optimisation to develop a reproducible conversion process
  • Undertake data analysis and interpretation of related to product development




  • CuanTec Ltd use a biological approach for the recovery of chitin from shellfish waste; there is scope for process optimisation and the development of relevant chemical analyses for QC at different steps of production. In this regard the chemist may be called upon for input in method development or process optimisation.
  • Liaise with the Head of Science with regards production optimisation



Quality Control


  • Successful applicants must have experience of working to GMP and GLP standards and a strong understanding of industry compliance
  • As the company steps up to pilot-scale production part of the Quality Control required during method upscale and transfer will fall on the QC chemist; the ability to generate QC parameters into a QMS is a prerequisite
  • Throughout the production of chitosan and chitin recovery the chemist will be expected to contribute to various aspects of quality control
  • Having an understanding of ISO standards and industrial regulations would also be advantageous


Documentation / communication / collaboration


  • Write progress reports and prepare results for Head of Science and the Board; present findings to colleagues and partners as required
  • Conduct data analysis and accurate / timely reporting of findings to the Head of Science
  • Ensure the validity and reliability of data at all times; and the accurate reporting of data in lab books and electronically as required
  • To develop contacts and research collaborations within industry and academia if required
  • Take initiative in the planning of research




  • The successful applicant should be able to identify areas where they can develop any required skills and knowledge and be willing to undertake training as necessary


Essential Requirements


  • A first degree (or equivalent) or a masters (or equivalent) in materials science, chemistry, engineering or similar
  • A PhD (or equivalent) in chemistry, QC, polymer chemistry or materials science or engineering including bioengineering or similar.
  • Experience in biopolymer characterisation (mechanical properties, chemical analyses, NMR, crystallography)
  • Experience in a wide range of synthetic skills (e.g. experimental design, wet chemistry, purification etc)
  • Experience in focusing on biopolymers, their chemistry and characterisation
  • Knowledge of materials characterisation techniques.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrable ability for innovation and original research
  • Demonstrated ability to work in industry and a collaborative environment
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct a detailed review of recent literature




Further information can be obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Please submit CVs in application for this post to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It was officially announced on Thursday 4th April that Waitrose & Partners has joined forces with Scottish biotec company CuanTec to work on a new film for food packaging made out of waste langoustine shells.


Official Press Announcement:




4th April 2019


Waitrose & Partners has joined forces with Scottish biotec company CuanTec to work on a new film for food packaging made out of waste langoustine shells.


CuanTec - based in Motherwell and Oban -  takes waste langoustine shells created from seafood processing to make a natural polymer - which can then be turned into a flexible film. The material also has the potential to be both industrially and home compostable.


The new packaging, which is at an experimental stage, was shown to HRH The Prince of Wales during a visit to Waitrose & Partners Food Innovation Studio today.


Waitrose hopes the new packaging could be used as an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in 12-18 months time, including Waitrose Duchy smoked salmon.


Dr Cait Murray-Green, CEO of CuanTec, said; “For us this technology represents the perfect virtuous circle. As well as protecting food on sale to consumers, it gives value to what would have been a waste product and takes single use plastic out of the food system, meaning that less waste goes to landfill.”

Karen, Graley, Waitrose & Partners packaging manager said; “While we are still at an experimental stage, the potential for this new packaging material is incredibly exciting. Conventional plastic films can’t currently be recycled, reused or composted - so finding an alternative which doesn’t go into landfill would be very significant in helping us reach our target of ensuring that all own label packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.”


Waitrose & Partners was introduced to CuanTec during a pitch day to reduce plastic waste for its JLAB retail innovation programme. JLAB allows the John Lewis Partnership to work with start-ups and more established businesses on exciting new technologies and ideas.


Waitrose & Partners was impressed with the potential of the ‘langoustine shell film’ and is now actively working with the company to test the packaging on some of its food in the hope of bringing it to market soon.


This wouldn’t be the first time that a bi-product of the food industry has been used for food packaging at Waitrose. The retailer is already using vine leaves produced as a by-product of tomato growing to make punnets for its Waitrose Duchy tomatoes.