IQ Chocolates and the University of Aberdeen

IQ Chocolates and the University of Aberdeen

IQ Chocolate was established in 2011 by Jane Shandley and Kate Hamilton who wanted to create a range of unique, healthy chocolate bars for the Scottish, UK, and global markets.

Starting with the single origin “IQ” superfood chocolate bar, their goal was to become Scotland’s first “bean to bar” chocolate manufacturer, using the finest, most nutritionally dense ingredients which would provide health benefits, appealing to those with a general interest in a naturally healthy diet, and to different market segments such as health and beauty, and sports and leisure.

Business Challenge

In order to prove the health benefits of their products Jane and Kate approached Interface – the knowledge connection for business, for help in identifying the right academic expertise to give their claims validity.

Interface facilitates business and academic partnerships encouraging product development, resource sharing and knowledge exchange with the ultimate goal of driving business development and growth.

The Interface team worked with Jane and Kate developing their initial brief and translating it into a dynamic working document that would allow academics from a range of institutions to pitch and offer a variety of different solutions.

“Working with Interface was easy. They worked with us to develop our brief which really helped in attracting the support we needed. They also compiled a number of different responses from the academics which allowed us to choose the solution that best met our needs.” Explained Jane Shandley, Director at IQ Chocolate. 

Solution

Having considered the options available to them Kate and Jane decided to prioritise two initial studies:

  • Analysis of the nutritional, health and wellbeing benefits of the chocolate in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen
  • The development of aspects of their unique processing method, in collaboration with Robert Gordon University

To support them with the initial collaboration with the University of Aberdeen, IQ Chocolate applied to Interface for a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher and were successfully awarded £5,000 to offset the costs of the research analysis.

The research conducted by the University of Aberdeen did indeed establish the high levels of antioxidants and nutritional benefits of the products in comparison to other high cocoa content chocolate. IQ also wanted to develop a process for ensuring that the nutrients were retained all the way from the bean to the bar.

Chocolate manufacturing commonly involves roasting cocoa beans. However, the application of heat would mean that some, if not all, of the nutritional benefits of the IQ products would be lost in the production process.

Thanks to Dr Andrew Lamb at Robert Gordon University, IQ were able to test the suitability of a non-thermal technology that would leave the cocoa beans undamaged.

Benefits

The research has allowed Kate and Jane to validate their initial claims and market the products as a delicious, naturally healthy alternative to traditional chocolate..

Subsequently IQ superfood chocolate bars are now being stocked in shops all over the UK from small farm food shops and delicatessens to multiples, such as Whole Foods, Planet Organic, high end stores, such as Harvey Nichols, and spas such as Stobo Castle. Through their expanding distributor network iQ chocolate is now also available in Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania and Cyprus.

According to Jane, ‘Interface helped us to connect with experts who have been able to differentiate our product as chocolate that you should, rather than shouldn’t, eat! We would recommend their service to anyone looking to develop an idea, be it a product or a service.’

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