Fife MSPs visit award-winning innovate business

Fife fruit and vegetable retailer, Ivan Wood & Sons, opened its doors to three MSPs on Friday, 5 October to showcase its award-winning innovation, developed in partnership with Abertay University.

Annabelle Ewing, MSP for Cowdenbeath; Willie Rennie, MSP for North East Fife; and Claire Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, learned about an innovative starch filtration system invented by Malcolm Wood, the company’s joint managing director.

Malcolm came up with the idea for Peel Tech when new legislation was being introduced banning food waste, including starch, from being disposed of in water supplies, potentially blocking drains.

He developed the affordable starch filtration system so that his business, which processes over 10,000 kilos of potatoes a week, would meet the legislation requirements, and soon realised there was a gap in the market for an affordable solution to help other small businesses, including fish and chip shops, to comply with the waste regulations.

Malcolm was put in touch with Interface, an organisation which matches businesses to academic expertise for research and development, and he was connected to Abertay University. The partnership successfully secured funding from Innovate UK and the Scottish Funding Council for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) - a three-way collaboration between a business, university/research institute and a graduate.

Lee-Anne McGee, the KTP Associate from Abertay University, who helped redesign and validate Peel Tech, is now one of the company’s 34 employees.

Lee-Anne won the Building Skills Through Knowledge Exchange Award whilst the company Malcolm Wood & Sons won the Innovation of the Year Award for Peel Tech at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017.

Malcolm Wood said:

“The build-up of starch in drains was causing huge problems, but there really wasn’t an affordable way of disposing with food waste. I had been thinking about this for some time when I had a eureka moment during the night and leaped out of bed to start working on it. 

“Abertay University was a great help to the business as we developed a starch filtration system which would meet the needs of food outlets and fish and chip shops. We have sold more than 50 units and our customers have reported that they are delighted with the results, and that the drains are sparkling clean.”

Professor Joe Akunna, from Abertay University, added:

“The academic team at Abertay has included cross-disciplinary working across food science and environmental engineering disciplines. This has been an interesting project that plays on the strengths of the University. Abertay has a long history of working with major food and drinks businesses across Scotland to develop innovative and cost-effective solutions to issues facing industry, including ways of recovering resources from by-products and helping to improve environmental performance”.

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, added: “We are really proud of our involvement in supporting Ivan Wood & Sons. Peel Tech’s journey from an idea to a product which offers an affordable solution to businesses across the UK and beyond, is fantastic. It shows what can be achieved by tapping into the expertise in Scotland’s world-leading universities.” 

The company, based at Navity Farm, Ballingry, is now working with the University of Edinburgh on a project to identify how Peel Tech can be used in UV water filtration to remove bacteria during the recycling of water from fisheries. 

Photo: from left to right, Juliette O’Keeffe (Abertay University), Lee-Anne McGee (Ivan Wood & Sons), Dr Siobhán Jordan (Interface), Claire Baker MSP, Willie Rennie MSP, Annabelle Ewing MSP and Malcolm Wood (Ivan Wood & Sons).