UK researchers are calling on industry players to partner them in a project to develop cellulose-based smart packaging for the food sector.
The team, led by Professor Steve Eichorn of the University of Exeter, are focussing on bio-nanocomposites in cellulose that monitor the degradation of food and respond accordingly.
“As a low cost abundant resource with a low environmental impact, this material has a number of inherent benefits for the food packaging industry,” said the university.
Prof Eichorn’s main focus is on cellulosics, the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, but he has worked on a range of other natural materials such as seashells and fingernails.
He applies principles from biological structures in engineering applications - or biomimetics - for a variety of applications including composites, smart packaging, energy harvesting and biofunctional materials.
Processing efficiency funding pot
The researcher suggested that the collaboration could be carried out as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Food Processing and Manufacturing Efficiency call.
This is a £15m (€18.6m) scheme funded by the UK government to increase in efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness in the food processing and manufacturing sector.
The competition aims to encourage more efficient food processing, packaging and distribution in retail and food service sectors and the efficient recycling of manufacturing by-products and waste.
Proposals must be collaborative and business-led, with successful projects will generally attracting up to 50% public funding, Grants of between £100k and £2.5m are likely to be awarded to individual projects, although initiatives larger than this are eligible to apply.
This is a two-stage contest opens on 11 June 2012. The deadline for registration is noon on 11 July 2012 and the deadline for expressions of interest is at noon on 18 July 2012. The deadline for invited applications is at noon on 19 September 2012.
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 19 June 2012.
Interested parties can contact Prof Eichhorn directly at S.J.Eichhorn@exeter.ac.uk