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A medical equipment manufacturer and a plant-based drinks producer are among the businesses being supported by an innovative project at the University of Plymouth. 
The Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund has provided funding for companies looking to develop products or services for the low carbon sector.
Its aim was to enable eligible Devon enterprises to collaborate with University academics in order to develop new, commercially viable initiatives or to diversify.
As well as helping enterprises to take action on climate change, it also helps smaller enterprises to compete with larger ones that have the resources to undertake their own research.
The Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), delivered through the University’s Low Carbon Devon project.
The Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), delivered through the University’s Low Carbon Devon project.
Dr Paul Lunt, Director of the Low Carbon Devon project, said:
“The issues posed by the climate emergency are impacting businesses of all sizes. However, they also present an opportunity to harness companies’ creativity for the greater good. The Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund is a fantastic way of igniting that sense of ingenuity, and a further way of enabling our academic expertise to benefit industry and society as a whole.”
Dr Paul Lunt
Dr Paul Lunt
Among the projects to have received £7,500, to pay for their collaboration with a University of Plymouth researcher, are:

Recovering harmful gases from the atmosphere

SageTech Medical Ltd, based in Paignton, is working with Lecturer in Chemistry Dr Lee Durndell to explore ways to capture the anaesthetic gases exhaled by patients during surgery. These captured gases can be recycled and purified saving the harmful gases from being released into the atmosphere and resulting in the creation of a reduced carbon product that can be resold. This new phase of the research will analyse the absorptive material that SageTech Medical Ltd use to recover anaesthetic gases, and investigate how the material could be adapted to capture more gases over its lifetime, improving the efficiency of this circular product.
SageTech Medical

Ultra-low carbon building method

Barry Honeysett Consulting Structural & Civil Engineers, based in Exeter, are looking at ways to increase the viability of construction using the ultra-low carbon cob technique. Specifically, they want to analyse Devon soils to gauge their suitability for this type of building. They will be working alongside Professor Steve Goodhew, who leads the University’s award-winning CobBauge Project, to complete a structural analysis of subsoil and fibre mixes. This research will inform a map of Devon’s potential earth-building hotspots, helping to increase the number of buildings constructed via this traditional method.
Close up of cobbauge - The cob mix focusing on the soil

Making use of waste

Bell and Loxton Innovations Ltd, based near Kingsbridge, is developing new uses for agricultural and food processing by-products. They are working with Associate Professor in Biomedical Sciences Dr Vikram Sharma, and the University’s Proteomics Core Laboratory, to explore the development of nutritional and therapeutic products made from the waste products of farmers’ normal crop rotations. It is aimed to develop these abundant waste products into components for high-value bio-renewables that have widespread applications across the nutrition, personal care and pharma sectors, thereby reducing carbon emissions and revolutionising the agri-food circular economy. 
A Jaguar type harvester working with a John Deere tractor with trailer, over an italian agricultural field. crop field farm shuttertock

Innovative packaging solutions 

To address issues around packaging waste, Plymouth business Prestige Packaging is investigating ways to become a carbon-neutral supplier of environmentally sensitive packaging. They will be working alongside Dr Anthony Robotham, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Amanda Burton, Research Associate in Engineering Design for the Circular Plastics Economy, together with other specialisms including Marketing and Design to undertake a project identifying new market opportunities and designing innovative and disruptive packaging solutions.
Mike Corran, Managing Director of Prestige
Packaging, with Dr Antony Robotham (Credit: Jude Palmer/Royal Academy of Engineering)

Sustainable oat milk in Devon

To improve the sustainability and quality of premium plant-based drinks, Lecturer in Food Quality Dr Victor Kuri has been working with Totnes-based ReRooted Organic to evaluate the use of local organic crops and to harness the ability of enzymes to digest the starch and proteins. The project will evaluate different ways to prepare ingredients for oat milks based on ethical, technological and cost feasibility considerations. The materials will be analysed using specialist resources at the University as well as testing in a sensory evaluation panel by trained experts and tested by baristas and consumers.
Oat milk in a bottle and glass with some oats

Find out more about the Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund

The Devon Net Zero Innovation fund is in place to enable collaborations between Devon enterprises and University of Plymouth academic researchers. The aim is to help Devon enterprises to develop new products or services for the low carbon sector, with funding of up to £7,500 per enterprise.
Visit our webpage
Devon Net Zero Innovation Fund

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