Moredun and Heriot-Watt secure £7.6m for safer water

A PROJECT to detect micro-organisms in water involving Penicuik-based life sciences firm Moredun Scientific has won €9 million (£7.6m) in European Union funding.

The “Aquavalens” programme, which begins next month, aims to develop technology that can test whether water is safe to drink.

Moredun Scientific – the commercial arm of the Moredun Foundation, the charity that runs the Moredun Research Institute – will work with engineers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh on the project, which will run until January 2018.

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Edinburgh University and the James Hutton Institute in Dundee will also be involved in the work, which will be led by Professor Paul Hunter at East Anglia University.

Professor Lee Innes, principal scientist and communications director at the Moredun Research Institute, said: “Cryptosporidium in par­ticular is a major issue, as the parasite, which is shed by infected livestock and people, is very resistant in the environment and is not killed by ­chlorination.

“The parasites can live in water quite happily for 18 months to two years.

“The pathogen is a major headache for water companies and they spend millions trying to deal with it.”

Innes spoke to engineers from Heriot-Watt about the problem and they became part of the Aquavalens proposals.

Innes is preparing to take part in a discussion at the Edinburgh International Science Festival on Tuesday. The ­session, titled “The Dark Art of Innovation”, will look at how innovation can be en­couraged in and industry ­universities.

She said that the Aquavalens project was a good example of how collaboration can bring about innovation.

Gerry Mulligan, research and development director for Europe at Gore-Tex protective clothing maker WL Gore & Associates, who will also speak at the event, echoed Innes’ comments. He said: One of the ways in which Gore is innovative is by bringing together staff with different skills into small teams to tackle specific problems.

“We’re a big enough com- pany that we can do that internally, but I think other organisations could work together with each other to bring together that mix of skills.”