Aduro Biopolymers gets key investment

Last updated 10:51 21/02/2013

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Hamilton-based Aduro Biopolymers, a natural resource materials and biopolymer company, has secured investment from Wallace Corporation, New Zealand's largest service rendering business which processes co-products from the meat processing industry.

Aduro Biopolymers is a spin-out company formed by WaikatoLink Limited, the technology transfer office of the University of Waikato. The company was formed to develop and market materials and biopolymers for use in the manufacturing sector.

Aduro is developing a novel material based on an unconventional idea - turning bloodmeal into bioplastic.
The size of the investment was not disclosed.

WaikatoLink chief executive Duncan Mackintosh, said securing investment at a key point in Aduro's development was very welcome. 

"We're also delighted to have Sir James Wallace join the Aduro board. Aduro Biopolymers is a great example of an early stage innovative company based on publicly funded research.

"It's encouraging to see a successful established company like Wallace Corporation value this innovation and its commercial promise as part of its strategy. This partnership will help the success of Aduro and open up new opportunities too." 

Aduro's aim is to develop environmentally conscious materials for the manufacturing and construction sectors.

The company's first product is Novatein, a bioplastic that will be price competitive with petrochemical plastics.

The global plastics market is worth over a trillion dollars and currently bioplastics represent 5-10 per cent of that market, with a compounded annual growth rate of almost 20 per cent.

Aduro acting chief executive Darren Harpur said the manufacturing process for Novatein was quite simple, which meant capital costs required to commence manufacture would be relatively low and should enable the cost effective production of Novatein.  

There was a growing demand for environmentally friendly plastics but they needed to be at the right price point for consumers, Harpur said.

"We are confident we can achieve this price point with Novatein."

The science behind Novatein originated and is being developed by the University of Waikato's Dr Johan Verbeek and his team, where bloodmeal produced by the red meat industry is processed into granules which have been modified and optimised to suit a chosen product's attributes.  

The granules can then be manufactured into injection moulded or extruded products using industry standard equipment. Novatein has been in development since 2007 and has received investment support from KiwiNet's PreSeed Accelerator Fund from the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

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Harpur said Novatein would help solve some environmental issues around plastic by introducing a bioplastic made from naturally occurring materials that on their own quickly degrade in the environment.

"We think that this aspect combined with a simple manufacturing process will enable our technology to be adopted quite rapidly." 

Aduro Biopolymers is working with commercial partners in New Zealand and Australia to develop Novatein for a range of product lines.  

The company said it was also looking to work with New Zealand research organisations to develop new and novel materials from other natural resource polymers.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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