A Scottish fruit and vegetable wholesaler who had a “eureka moment” in the middle of the night picked up the coveted Innovation of the Year award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017. Connected by Interface, Ivan Wood and Sons and Abertay University transformed new regulation into a business opportunity.

Ivan Wood and Sons is a family run business with 30 employees located in Ballingry, Fife. As a company which prepares and supplies fresh and pre-prepared fruit and vegetables to the catering trade, they faced the same challenge as many others in the industry – the Waste Regulations (Scotland) prevent non-rural businesses from depositing food and starch waste in a public drain or sewer. Malcolm’s idea, combined with Abertay University expertise and government backed KTP funding, has resulted in the creation of an affordable, compact starch filtration system, known as PeelTech.

PeelTech offers significant savings to chip shop owners, the catering trade and food and fish processing businesses. If the average Chip Shop peels around 10 bags of main crop potatoes a week, they produce approximately 420kg of waste micropeel and potato starch which previously went down the drain. Smelly, messy and blocked drains need expensive jet clearing every few weeks and companies risk fines of up to £10,000. Early adopters of the PeelTech system are reporting savings of over £1500 per year.

In order to develop the concept of the filtering system into a saleable product, the collaboration appointed Knowledge Transfer Associate Lee-Anne McGee to the project. Lee-Anne redesigned and validated the filtration system, reduced waste materials and generated sales within the UK and Europe. She also implemented a Food Quality Management System, which resulted in significant cost savings to both the company wages and packaging. In a final flourish, Lee- Anne developed a high quality vegetable stock from the recovered starch to be sold as a new product to the food service industry.

“Working with Abertay has allowed the company to open many doors that once were normally closed to industry. We have our Knowledge Transfer Associate working alongside the company and the University to establish new products and help with the developments of the new filtration system.” – Malcolm Wood, Malcolm Wood & Sons

Based on site at Ivan Wood and Sons Ltd but jointly supervised by the University and company, Lee-Anne triumphed in the Building Skills through Knowledge Exchange category at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017, to complement the project’s Innovation of the Year Award.

With its interdisciplinary approach, the University was ideally placed to help conduct this research by bringing together the expertise of its teams working in food technology and water treatment for maximum research capability. Abertay’s £3.5 million food innovation facilities are exceptional and the only ones of their type in Scotland. Business partners can access a fully food standard production / pilot plant to develop new products and refine productions processes to get to market faster and a world leading sensory and consumer science laboratory to iterate and refine.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.