US aviation chief joins Scots firm behind revolutionary label

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A SENIOR figure in the US aviation industry, Douglas Cribbes, has joined the board of an Edinburgh company behind a labelling system that promises to revolutionise health and food safety.

The appointment of Cribbes, president and chief executive of Texas Aero Engine Services in Fort Worth, is expected to help UWI Technology secure £1.1 million to complete expansion plans.

UWI has developed a labelling system that “knows” when an item was first opened and indicates when it is no longer safe to use. The invention has potential uses in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in glue and sealants for aviation construction.

It indicates how long ago a product was first opened with coloured bars that appear week by week.

UWI is expected to achieve an £80m valuation in five years, with major investment consortia in the UK expressing interest, while a group of potential investors have been identified in the US.

The appointment of Cribbes is expected to bring the firm a step closer to its goal of securing the finance it needs to finalise testing and launch the product across new markets.

Edinburgh-based Pete Higgins, who invented the label, stumbled upon the idea after almost giving his young son out-of-date mayonnaise.

He said: “It has been a long, tough process but we are now at the most exciting stage, with multiple investors interested, the product months away from mass production and an important patent pending.

“Having Douglas on board is the best validation we could have hoped for. At a stroke his endorsement gives us global credibility, while his reputation and contacts will help us with access to decision-makers we could only have dreamt of reaching previously.

“This technology is suitable for any sector where products have a critical shelf life once opened – pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and even blood transfusion services.”

Cribbes said: “Even on paper it was obvious to me that UWI Label could have important uses in the aviation sector. When I actually got to see it, my mind started racing with the possibilities.

“I am genuinely excited at how this could bring far-reaching improvements in the way the industry works with industrial glues and sealants in many different ways.

“There are all sorts of calibrations, scheduled checks and critical application issues where we have to adhere to the tightest of procedures and meet compliance standards which are entirely time-dependent. UWI Label technology could impact on many of them.”