List of Questions
How to develop uses and applications for "novel components" derived from seaweed/macroalgae?
Marine Biopolymers Ltd (MBL) has developed significant, and industry leading, expertise in the Multi-component extraction of indigenous UK/Scottish seaweeds, with a particular emphasis on Laminaria Hyperborea (one of the family generically known as Kelp), which is abundant in Scottish waters, especially off the west and northern coasts. Using a mix of physical and chemical treatments on the Laminaria Hyperborea plant, MBL has developed a new (and much improved) process for the extraction of Alginate, and it is the first company globally to be able to potentially commercially recover Cellulose from seaweed. It is also working on finalised processes for the recovery of other saccharide polymers from this seaweed, including Fucoidan and Laminarin. There is one "component" where our knowledge in terms of its end use/uses is still not clear, and that is what we call the Bark (or skin) of the stem of the Laminaria Hyperborea; we recover this mechanically (using patented technology) and we believe we are the only company to do this, and hence it can be viewed as a "novel" seaweed component (or seaweed product). It comprises up to 10% of the weight of the Stem and hence is relevant to the overall economics of our seaweed extraction business. Definition of what the Bark consists of has been a challenging task, but we do know that it is roughly 1/3rd Inorganic and 2/3rds Organic in terms of its dry content; it is also "rich" in iodine (much more so than normal brown seaweeds), and the usual elements such as potassium. The Organic components include modest amounts of Alginate and Fucoidan, but there are much higher levels of Protein, and possibly Cellulose, than is common for brown seaweeds; there are also lower content, and more specialised components, such as Xanthin pigments. We would be interested to explore ideas on value adding end uses for, or further processing routes to, this Bark (which is a deep brown powder when dried) e.g. Horticultural, Agricultural or ????; there are supplementary issues relating to that such as should we retain the "iodine" for end uses, due to its potency, or should we wash it out to leave the underlying (insoluble) organic compounds?
What factors should be considered when developing a novel therapeutic antibody, in order to maximise its chances of becoming a successful medical product.
MedAnnex Ltd is an innovative Edinburgh-based biotechnology company. We are developing a monoclonal antibody - annexuzlimab - as a novel treatment for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
How do we vary the availability of a sodium ion in solution?
There is pressure to reduce salt levels in products like stocks and gravies. Oral perception is driven by concentration differences, but in a normal aqueous system the sodium ions are evenly dispersed. How could this be avoided?
How can we leverage food microstructures to improve in mouth flavour and aroma release from liquid systems?
Flavour and aroma delivery in liquid systems is challenging due to the homogeneity of the solution. Furthermore, in most cases those system undergo thermal processing and further preparation steps before being consumed (e.g. perhaps make-up with boiling water). Is there any way to maximise the delivery of thermally labile ingredients in the mouth?
What options are there to produce structured fats optimized for physical robustness rather than mouthfeel?
Liquid oils structured with waxes or phytosterols are attractive to the food industry for replacement of saturated fat and to improve the sustainability of the products. This works well in spreads and semi solid products, however, previous attempts have shown that the strength of a solid product produced with structured fat is compromised. For loosely granulated products the fat replacement needs to be able to cope with conveying, storing in bulk and packaging processes.
How do you modify a protein to change its solubility?
ScotBio produces natural blue pigments for the food industry. Some of our pigments are protein based and highly soluble in water. We're curious what processes would be suitable to modify solubility in order to make them more suitable for other purposes, including in cosmetics (eg. eye-liner, so it doesn't 'run').
What options are available to determine and control odour of a product on an industrial scale?
It has been suggested that one of the primary factors holding back wider consumer adoption of algal/microalgal biomass/derivatives products on the market, despite desirable nutritional qualities, is issues with odour (eg fishy, 'pond- like' smells). Are there processes that can address such issues, in a manner which is safe and acceptable in the context of industrial scale food manufacturing?
Can you process proteins to enhance their chemical/physical stability in the context of industrial scale food manufacturing?
Consumer concerns are increasingly driving demand for replacement of 'artificial ingredients' with 'natural' versions. Industrial-scale adoption of many such ingredients (such as pigments) is often slow or problematic due to variability/instability of these substances under conditions commonly used in food manufacturing (eg high temperatures; low pH). Being able to enhance stability would facilitate transition to 'natural' ingredients through compatibility with current production methods, or at least minimize the cost of any changes. This would also increase the range of products in which such 'natural' ingredients may be adopted. Any solution would have to be acceptable in the context of industrial scale food manufacturing.
How to reduce costs of downstream processing?
Current technologies used in downstream processing such as filters, flocculants and centrifuges are expensive to run and inefficient. Bioproducers express the need for innovative solution which will bring costs of downstream processing down, enabling cost efficient manufacturing of cell-based products. uFraction8 is a startup company working on microfluidics based system for industrial scale cell separation, biomass dewatering and concentration. We seek academic partners to apply for grants (such as InnovateUK and H2020) to further develop our solution and shape it to the customer needs. We look for academics with knowledge of industrial biotechnology, biotech engineering, microfluidics, bioproduction processes and similar fields.
How to scale up cell based production to industrial level and incorporate it into circular economy projects?
Scaling up technologies used in cell based production is challenging due to limitations mainly connected with downstream processing. Scalability of processes is crucial for implementing big scale circular economy projects where bioprocesses seem to play crucial roles. uFraction8 is a startup company working on microfluidics based system for industrial scale cell separation, biomass dewatering and concentration. We seek academic partners to apply for grants (such as InnovateUK and H2020) to further develop our solution and shape it to the circular economy projects needs. We look for academics with knowledge of industrial biotechnology, biotech engineering, microfluidics, bioproduction processes, sustainability, circular economy and similar fields, as well as contacts with interested 3rd parties.