A Falkirk-based water treatment start-up has emerged as the winner of the inaugural £7,500 Murgitroyd Innovator Launchpad competition.
Along with a £5,000 cash prize, uFraction8 has secured a package of marketing support and £2,500 of intellectual property (IP) services from Murgitroyd, the Glasgow-based firm of trade mark and patent attorneys.
Founded in April, uFraction8 is a spin-out from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and has developed technology that reduces water usage and increases efficiency in the production of pharmaceuticals, food additives and other particles across a wide range of sectors.
The company, co-founded by managing director Dr Brian Miller and chief operating officer Dr Monika Tomecka, uses a system called microfluidics to separate particles such as algae, yeast and bacteria from water without using expensive centrifuges or filters that can become clogged.
Its equipment will be built in Scotland and Tomecka said the company stood to gain from links with existing “bioreactor” manufacturers, who could offer its services as an added benefit to clients.
She told The Scotsman: “We’re talking to two companies in the UK at the moment – they are already interested, which shows there is a value in this. They are deploying all over the world, in the US, Israel, Malaysia, so that will be really powerful.”
Miller said that uFraction8’s technology could be adapted to a “broad spectrum of applications”, including the use of algae to “harvest” precious metals from mining waste and improve the production of omega-3 health supplements.
Announcing the award, which attracted “fierce competition” from 35 entrants, Jamie LeLiever, chief marketing officer at Murgitroyd, said that access to professional advice was “absolutely critical” for early-stage companies.
Innovator Launchpad, which was run via the Facebook social media platform, will be returning in the autumn and LeLiever said: “Using Facebook gets over the anxiety of applying for awards and grants, which can be hugely time consuming and arduous. Innovator Launchpad was meant to be more approachable and social.”
Murgitroyd patents director Keith Jones said that uFraction8, which is now looking to expand its team on the back of the award, had demonstrated “seriously disruptive technology”.
He added: “As a patent attorney, I deal with innovation day in and day out, and I have to say that I was very impressed by the quality of the entries.”