Ivan Wood & Sons Limited is a small, family run business based in Fife. It is a wholesaler of fruit and vegetables, principally to the catering trade. It has been developing and growing its processing facility for vegetable preparation, always trying out new ways to extend shelf-life and to provide the best possible product to its customers.
With new legislation coming into force in January 2016, intending to stop the disposal of starch from foods like rice and potatoes going into the water supply and blocking pipes, businesses such as fish and chip shops, fast food outlets, and Chinese takeaways will need to have a mechanism in place to restrict the amount of starch that is going down their drains.
To comply with this new legislation, Malcolm Wood, Managing Director of Ivan Wood & Sons, developed an affordable starch filtration system design so that his business, which processes 30,000 kilos of potatoes a week, would meet the requirements of the new legislation.
Its suitability for broader use, however, soon became apparent, with Malcolm identifying a gap in the market for an affordable filtration system to help other small businesses.
"When I first started working on this design, I had no idea it was going to have so much potential."
Whilst developing a working prototype, Malcolm was put in touch with Interface who would be able to connect him to academic experts from across Scotland for further development of the prototype. The connection was established through a referral to Food Health & Innovation Service (FHIS) by Business Gateway.
After sending out a search to various universities within Scotland, Interface connected Malcolm with Abertay University. The partnership submitted a joint application for funding and, ultimately, secured a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) from Innovate UK and the Scottish Funding Council.
Regarding his invention, Malcolm Wood says that:
"Although there are systems that exist which do something similar, they are priced far too high for most businesses to be able to afford them."
"I certainly couldn't, so I'm really pleased to have been awarded this KTP with Abertay, as it means my invention will be able to help other businesses that would otherwise be struggling to find a way to comply with the new legislation."
Dr Jon Wilkin, Senior Food Technologist at Abertay’s food & drink business support service, Food Innovation @ Abertay, said that the KTP
"means we'll be able to build Malcolm’s model commercially, ensure that it works and also investigate new ways to make use of the starch that's extracted through the process so that nothing goes to waste".
He added that with more than 10,500 fish and chips shops in the UK, and an equal number of Chinese and Indian takeaways who will need to meet the new legislation, this is a huge business opportunity for Ivan Wood & Sons.
"The hotel and restaurant trade will also have to adapt, so Malcolm has really hit on a great idea with this model, as there is a genuine commercial need for it," he continued.
Dr Jon Wilkin, who leads the project with Professor Joe Akuna from the University's Urban Water Technology Centre, also noted that Malcolm Wood's business has already been contacted by third parties interested in purchasing the final product.
"We're looking forward to getting started on this new project," Jon said.
The benefits to academia on working on such a collaboration are many:
- impact case study for REF submission
- academic journal articles
- working on real life problems
- closer collaboration with industry which increases case study's for dissemination to students
- learning opportunity for staff (working with real life problems)
Ivan Wood & Sons was a finalist for the “Environmental Sustainability” Award at the Scotland of Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2015.
Ivan Wood & Sons won the Innovation of the Year Awards at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017.
Lee-Anne McGee, the KTP Associate from Abertay University, who worked on the PeelTech product won the Building Skills Through Knowledge Exchange Award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017.