Biome Bioplastics and Impact Recycling: how Innovate UK KTN shaped their journeys

Posted on: 08/02/2022

Two Innovate UK funded businesses are actively eradicating plastic waste through innovative solutions; find out how Innovate UK KTN shaped the journeys of Biome Bioplastics and Impact Recycling.

Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF) was vital in accelerating the progress and growth of hundreds of UK based SME’s whose mission revolved around innovation and sustainability. SIF, created to facilitate economic recovery from the pandemic, was instrumental in the growth and development of 1800 companies across various sectors, from medical equipment to plastic recycling. Tackling plastic waste in two distinct ways are SIF funded companies, Biome Bioplastics and Impact Recycling.

KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Managers Sally Beken and Richard Cooper supported these companies in gaining visibility and funding as well as hone their projects to best fit Innovate UK’s application process.

Biome Bioplastics’ innovative solution is helping minimise plastic pollution in our soils through biodegradable tree shelters. 10 million tree shelters are used per year just in the UK, and conventional tree shelters take decades to decompose and are thus responsible for thousands of tons of polypropylene particles in UK soils. Biome Bioplastics is developing bio-based alternatives to traditional petrochemical plastics, made without oil and with minimal environmental damage. These bio plastics have thousands of possible applications. Click here to watch the case study video.

Sally has supported Biome Bioplastics since 2018 after inviting Biome’s managing director Paul Mines to competition briefing events and ISCF deep dive activity concerning sustainable plastic packaging. Paul was a valued contributor in shaping what became the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge.

Since then, Sally has continued to support Biome by visiting their laboratories, providing a platform for Paul to present Biome’s materials as well as providing continuous insight to hundreds of industry experts. Through consistently looking for opportunities for Biome to access funding, Innovate UK KTN is supporting novel and innovative material manufacturing that can reduce our reliance on the fossil based plastic industry.

Biome, in winning the grant competition for Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund was able to fund lab-based research, create prototypes and trial their biodegradable tree shelters in multiple different soils and environments in the UK.

Impact Recycling is a Scotland based company that has invented a novel recycling technology called Baffled Oscillation Separation System. David and his team at Impact Recycling created this water-based density separation system that sorts plastics exclusively on chemical properties. Initially designed for sorting rigid plastics, Impact Recycling is now transforming its BOSS 3D technology into a 2D system for sorting flexible plastics. Since flexible plastics account for 20% of post-consumer plastic waste, BOSS 2D can significantly reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. Click here to watch the case study video.

Through her connections with events teams at Resource and Waste Management (RWM), Sally arranged for Impact to showcase their BOSS technology at the event, where they made many valuable connections and even established multiple future client business.

Richard Cooper was brought on board to help support numerous companies looking to make plastics more sustainable including Impact Recycling. Having regular meetings with them and helping them polish their funding proposals, Richard makes sure the business, technology and vision come across as intended to maximise their chance of success. Richard has developed a friendly working relationship with Impact company individuals such as Redha Nacef, Process Engineer after he reached out to Innovate UK KTN for help with Business Plans and proposal guidance. Richard advised them from an innovation perspective but most importantly helped them create compelling grant funding applications.

Reflecting on collaboration with these companies, Sally remarks that she appreciates and enjoys working with people such as David Walsh and Paul Mines who are passionate about what they do and are driving innovation with positive impact.

David Walsh, director of Impact Recycling, stated of Richard and Sally that “Their knowledge and support in guiding us through the application process was invaluablenoting that they had “genuine interest” in their success and development.

Sally notes that there are many remarkable innovative companies and whilst they may have been fruitful in any case, analysis has shown that using Innovate UK KTN support results in a 3 fold more likely chance of being successful in applications to competitions in plastics sustainability; an achievement that she also credits to her colleague Richard.

Sally Beken has a PhD in polymer science and is also the founder and lead for the UK Circular Plastics Network. Sally’s educational background, unending passion for sustainability and years of experience, make her the perfect KTM to advise and guide companies working in plastics sustainability forward. She also runs the KTN’s Global Research and Innovation in Plastic Sustainability (GRIPS).

Richard Cooper is a Chartered Physicist and Knowledge Transfer Manager, managing projects such as the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging, or SSPP.

For both, Sally and Richard, it is a given that should any opportunity arise, that would benefit their contacts, they would be in touch and connect them with the relevant parties to help develop and grow their business.

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