An ingenious Scots invention which warns when food or other products are about to expire has won a coveted place on a trip to meet some of the most influential investors in the US.
UWI Label is one of 13 ‘clean tech’ firms which won a prestigious Europe-wide competition to earn a place on the high-profile business tour of Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Pete Higgins, UWI Label inventor said he was thrilled to be among the most exciting innovators in Europe chosen to be part of the Climate-KIC USA Start Up Tour.
He added: “It’s a real coup for us to have won a place and it will provide an incredible platform for our product. This really cements 2012 as a breakthrough year for UWI Label.
“The itinerary is packed with game changing opportunities for us and we are delighted that Climate-KIC recognised the potential value of the UWI Label in mitigating climate change.
“The competition has positioned UWI Technology alongside some of the most promising start up businesses in Europe, sharing the platform with some really big names in the sector.
“We are excited to further explore market opportunities in the US and it will allow us to build on the connections we have made on the continent after securing significant investment from US investors earlier this year.”
With 2012 already a momentous year for the firm after earning vital new backing from influential investors and winning one of the biggest accolades in the scientific sector, the trip is a real bonus for the Edinburgh firm.
Highlights in the itinerary include lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Harvard Business School Innovation Lab; a visit to ARPA who are regarded as one of the first internet pioneers; and networking opportunities with prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank and US business guru Ken Morse.
The ingenious UWI Label has been tipped to transform the food sector by encouraging healthy and safe use and will assist in reducing the amount of food waste generated by indicating exactly when food is unsuitable for consumption, a value recognised by Climate-KIC which led to them winning a place on the tour.
Astonishingly,UWI Label was not the only Edinburgh firm to win a spot on the prestigious tour. PureVLC, headed by CEO Gordon Povey, is a pioneer of ‘Li-Fi’ technology which uses LED light bulbs to transmit data.
The competition was run by Climate-KIC, which is part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and sought to find start up businesses with products or services which can combat climate change and have a mass market appeal.
UWI Label Inventor Pete Higgins was inspired after he almost served out-of-date mayonnaise – which can cause chronic sickness and diarrhoea – to his young son. He was determined to come up with a solution to protect health, reduce waste and save money.
After coming up with the invention five years ago, Pete gave up his job and ploughed his life savings into pursuing the development of the technology. This has included working with a team of scientists at Heriot-Watt University as well as a mass production development partner to develop the prototypes.
The UWI warning label is activated as soon as a jar or other packaging is opened and is set to revolutionise safety standards in sectors as diverse as medicines, cosmetics and food & drink.
Another potential use is in managing use of time-sensitive industrial glues and sealants, common in aircraft manufacture and maintenance – an application which inspired Glasgow born businessman Douglas Cribbes, the President and CEO of Fort-Worth based Texas Aero Engine Service LLC (a joint venture company between Rolls-Royce and American Airlines) to join UWI Technology as a Chairman last year.
Other areas where UWI Label is stimulating interest include the life sciences and medical sectors and the food and drink industries.
Pete believes UWI Label will become the de-facto standard for time based safety and regulatory compliance in health and many industry and consumer product sectors.
The system is triggered as soon as packaging is opened and begins a countdown to show exactly when a product’s “Use Within” period expires -showing green while the product is safe and red when it is not.
In February the ingenious Scots invention claimed one of the biggest accolades in the scientific sector by winning top prize for innovation at the Scottish Enterprise Life Science Awards.
Last year UWI Technology won the coveted Barclays Take One Small Step competition, a UK-wide business award across nine regions of the country. The £50,000 prize allowed Pete and his team to accelerate development of the working prototype.
More information about UWI Label can be found at www.uwitechnology.com