A SCOTTISH start-up using shellfish to slash plastic pollution has won a game-changing investment from the Scottish Investment Bank and Sky Ocean Ventures.

Biotech business CuanTec is to drive the “significant” cash boost into final formulas and pilot production of its biodegradable, compostable and biodegradable food wrap.

Made from biopolymers harvested from waste shells sourced from Scotland’s aquaculture industry, the sustainable product promises an ethical alternative to single-use plastics and, its makers hope, become a go-to item for both domestic and commercial kitchens worldwide.

The National has been asked not to disclose the exact sum secured by CuanTec, which is based in Motherwell and Oban.

However, the big-figure investment is the largest ever awarded to CuanTec, which will now create new jobs at the European Marine Sciences Centre at Dunstaffnage, near Oban.

The National:

Chief executive officer Cait Murray-Green (above) said: “The world has awakened to the problems that we have created with single-use plastic.

“CuanTec is working to provide compostable alternatives which will eliminate single-use plastic from the food industry.

“We are delighted by the support of Sky Ocean Ventures and Scottish Enterprise in enabling this early stage technology to move forward and to help create scientific jobs in rural Argyll and in Motherwell. Increasingly the investment community has also taken up the challenge and SOV has proven to be a valuable partner who believe strongly in our team and in what we are trying to achieve – to make plastic pollution history.”

CuanTec uses a chemical-light process to extract chitin, a naturally-occurring substance, from shellfish waste, turning discards into a valuable ingredient for the food wrap.

The company is a spin-out from Strathclyde University and has been operational for only two and a half years, going from three to 14 staff over that time.

The National:

Despite its infancy, Jamie Rowles, head of investment at Sky Ocean Ventures – the £25m fund formed by media giant Sky – says the operation shows incredible promise: “We are excited to support the next phase of CuanTec’s development, alongside Scottish Enterprise, on the company’s journey to embed their formulations into the packaging of fresh produce. We have developed a strong relationship with the team over the last six months, and their strong passion and desire to develop sustainable solutions to single use packaging is unmatched.”

The investment round has been led by Sky Ocean Ventures and the Scottish Investment Bank, an arm of Scottish Enterprise. Its director Kerry Sharp commented: “This deal represents an exciting progression in the growth of CuanTec and will enable the company to scale up production. We are delighted to support the company, alongside Sky Ocean Ventures, as it continues to innovate and develop products with the potential of addressing the problems of plastic pollution and food waste.

“The company has been supported by Scottish Enterprise’s SMART: SCOTLAND innovation support and Financial Readiness support and we look forward to working further with the business, through Scottish Enterprise’s many support mechanisms, as it continues to develop and grow.”