Milton Keynes-based business, Efficiency Technologies has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to utilise The Open University’s space-related expertise for a project that will improve the analysis involved in chemical extraction processes. The SPRINT programme will provide funding to support Efficiency Technologies’ extraction and deployment processes involved in premium quality chemicals for use in the UK food and drink sector.
The £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products for space and space-enabled sectors.
The project will focus on Efficiency Technologies’ flavonoid extraction process – the family of compounds, obtained from plants, that provide our food and drink with their unique flavour and smell. Working with the Applied Science & Technology Group, a member of the Space Strategic Research Area at The Open University, the SPRINT project will enable Efficiency Technologies to develop a new low-level analytical method of profiling, which is designed to be used in the production process phase, to monitor the correct levels of critical compounds. This will ensure that natural variability can be controlled and adapted to provide the highest premium product quality.
Flavonoid profiling at low levels is complex and can be time consuming existing analytical methods fail to detect the very low levels of key flavour molecules which are critical to the natural complexity and taste. This project will focus on how the use of novel extraction techniques can change the flavour profile during extraction and how it can have a major impact on the value of the recovered materials and the time taken to generate the product.
Phil Metcalfe, Founder/Director of Efficiency Technologies said: “Having recently completed an Innovate UK project, we’re working with The Open University on the SPRINT programme to overcome a lack of superior quality analytical tools in our work of extracting high value chemicals from materials. The cost of undertaking this work internally or in a commercial environment is prohibitive so SPRINT-funded access to expertise from The Open University will provide us with a commercial advantage in deploying the chemicals extracted in the UK food and drink sector.”
Dr Geraint Huw Morgan from the School of Physical Sciences at The Open University added: “The SPRINT funding will allow us to develop a strategic relationship with Efficiency Technologies, a local SME with an exciting new approach to flavonoid extraction. Building on our track record of developing instrumentation for the Rosetta and Beagle2 space missions and our extensive portfolio of novel laboratory assays developed in our world-leading analytical capabilities, it is our intention to provide Phil and his customers with the evidence of the value their process is adding to their starting materials. This will enable us to a) fully exploit the commercial opportunity and b) demonstrate that our research delivers impact with reach and significance.”