INGREDIENTS maker Tate & Lyle yesterday signed a deal to use technology developed by a spin-out firm from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh to improve the “texture” of its foods.
Nandi Proteins, which was launched in 2001, takes the proteins found in common foods such as egg white, soy seeds and whey and then unfolds them so their properties can be changed.
Altering the proteins’ structure means they can be used in various situations, like replacing fat in very low-fat sauces or increasing the shelf life of foods by allowing them to reach higher pasteurisation temperatures.
Tate & Lyle licensed the technology for use in the food and drink industry, while Nandi will continue to develop its invention for other applications, such as in the pharmaceuticals sector.
Mike Brennand, executive chairman at Nandi Proteins, said: “Our agreement with Tate & Lyle is a powerful validation of Nandi’s approach of developing partnerships with major food industry players.
“Tate & Lyle’s technical resources and global customer reach combined with our technology make this a ‘win-win’ partnership and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
The deal was struck through Tate & Lyle’s “open innovation team”, which works with universities and their spin-out companies to bring food and drink technology to the market.
John Stewart, open innovation manager at Tate & Lyle, said: “We look forward to further developing Nandi’s food ingredient technology, which has the potential to be an excellent addition to our texturants offering.
“This agreement represents another example of Tate & Lyle’s open innovation team successfully developing strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with early-stage companies.”
Tate & Lyle Ventures, the company’s £25 million venture capital fund, has invested in companies including Oban-based marine biotechnology outfit Aquapharm and Hamilton-based Devro-spin out BioFilm.
The Nandi deal will trigger a pay-day for Frontier IP, the Edinburgh-based company that helps universities to commercialise their research and which holds a 3 per cent stake in Nandi.
Frontier IP – spun out in 2009 from Edinburgh-based Sigma Capital, the Aim-quoted investment firm in which Sir Tom Hunter holds a 22 per cent stake – will receive advisory fees as a result of the licensing deal.
Neil Crabb, chief executive at Frontier IP, said: “Tate & Lyle looks for innovations that will lead to exciting new food and beverage ingredients and Nandi’s technology offers this. The agreement also reflects Nandi’s strategy of developing partnerships with major industry players, which continues.”
Scots businessman Abram Lyle, who opened a refinery in east London in 1883, began putting Golden Syrup into its famous green and gold tins in 1885. In 1921, Lyle’s business merged with Henry Tate’s sugar firm, founded in 1878. Tate & Lyle sold its sugar business in 2010 to American Sugar Refining for £211m.