Funds for research project involving food firms

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CAKES, sausages and even edible seaweed are to be given a scientific makeover after funding was unveiled for research projects involving three food firms.

Hamilton-based cakes firm Lightbody, sausage skin maker Devro in Moodiesburn and Edinburgh-based seaweed supplier Mara will share £75,000 from Interface, the body that brokers university partnerships with businesses.

Lightbody, which is owned by Aim-quoted Finsbury Food and makes products for brands including Disney, Thorntons and Weight Watchers, will work with Strathclyde University to discover how salt, sugar and other ingredients are distributed inside its cakes.

The firm aims to increase the shelf life of its products and also reduce waste and energy use in its factory.

FTSE 250-listed Devro will use complex mathematical models developed at Glasgow University for the life sciences sector to create sausage skins.

Mara, which harvests seaweed from Ireland and Scotland, will collaborate with the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban to see if edible seaweed can be farmed.

Helen Pratt, co-ordinator for Interface’s food and drink unit, said the projects will last for up to nine months.

Laurence Howells, interim chief executive at the Scottish Funding Council, which provided the cash, added: “These new projects are very impressive, and initiatives such as this help to ensure the national economy benefits from the expertise within Scotland’s universities.”