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£400,000 environmental innovation competition winners announced

18 September 2015

Winners of an environmental competition aimed at businesses across Scotland were announced yesterday (Thursday 17 September) at the first Scottish meeting of the UK Nutrient Platform, held at the Royal Society in Edinburgh.

Managed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition forms part of a wider programme of the Green Growth Group, which was set up to support and develop the clean tech sector and circular economy in Scotland.

This £800,000 competition aimed to develop innovative solutions through private-public sector collaboration to recover phosphorus and other nutrients and chemicals from water for beneficial use.

The competition is a first by a public agency in Scotland which uses, a process which connects public sector challenges with innovative ideas from small companies, micro businesses and spinouts across all sectors.

A total of up to £400k was allocated to phase one of the competition for up to ten feasibility studies and a further £400k is allocated to phase two of the competition for prototype development.

The seven winning entries are:

  • Uist Asco (North Uist) for recovery and reuse of phosphates from rivers using Scottish renewable resources
  • Brathadair (Edinburgh) for recovery of phosphorus from pot ale
  • Pennog Ltd (Wales) for phosphorus capture and recycle in a plant bio-stimulant
  • New Generation Biogas (Devon) for robust enhanced biological phosphate
  • Sustainable Water Company (Edinburgh) for phosphate removing ochre pellets
  • JFI Ltd (Ballyclare, Northern Ireland) for nano absorbents for phosphate recovery and priority substances
  • De Montfort University (Lancaster) for UV and microwave assisted catalysis for destruction of priority substances

They have each received around £40,000 as part of the first phase of the competition.
On successful completion of the seven feasibility studies, the winners will again compete for their contracts of £100,000 (inc VAT) allocated to prototypes for live trial.

HIE, supported by Innovate UK has worked in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Water Industry Division to fund this SBRI competition for Scotland. Other supporting partners include Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Water and Scottish Enterprise.

This SBRI competition forms part of a wider programme of work under the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, referred to as Green Growth Initiative. It was set up to support and accelerate the development of green growth and a circular economy in Scotland.

The SBRI competition is part of a programme of initiatives to achieve the Scottish Governement’s ambition of developing Scotland as a Hydro Nation – a nation that not only values and protects its water assets, but grows the water business sector too.

Diane Duncan, Head of Low Carbon at HIE said: “HIE is delighted to be project managing this first SBRI competition for Scotland and we congratulate the winners. Some of the most innovative companies in Scotland employ fewer than ten people. SBRI competitions are designed to help the public sector work with smaller organisations and use their ideas and experience to develop technology solutions for emerging issues and challenges.

“Nutrient recovery and the management of chemicals in our environment are growing ever more important and this competition is an excellent way of putting a spotlight on a growth opportunity for business. The projects are now all up and running and we are planning to try and learn as many lessons as possible from using the SBRI pre-procurement approach.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: "This competition is designed to encourage businesses to develop technology solutions to recover phosphorus, and priority substances, from the water environment and, where possible, put these recovered materials to beneficial use. This is a very exciting opportunity as it could lead to Scotland becoming a more circular economy, and help small and medium-sized businesses access global opportunities.

"Zero Waste Scotland is helping accelerate the development of a circular economy in Scotland - an ambition supported by the Scottish Government, which is currently consulting views to help inform the development of a circular economy strategy for Scotland. Creating a circular economy means moving away from our current 'make-use-dispose' culture to one where products and materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible.”

Stephen Browning, Head of SBRI: “We are delighted that the competition is progressing well for Scotland’s public sector and we look forward to assisting with the second stage of this ambitious programme of work in 2016.”

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