Chemical reaction

An exciting joint venture launches this week which sees a range of agencies in Scotland collaborating on a new opportunity for small firms in Scotland which could develop the circular economy in an exciting new direction  - by extracting priority substances from our water environment.

Written By Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland  |  14 Jan 15

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for aquatic plants and animals, but an over-abundance of it in our water systems can, under the right conditions, have a dramatic negative impact on marine environments including algae blooms, low dissolved oxygen and the death of certain fish.  Priority substances can also be toxic to water-based organisms.

The circular aspect of this is where our interest lies and it’s yet another case of something currently going to waste - in this case phosphorous and other priority substances - which could have many other applications. It’s a case of bringing in the expertise to join the dots.

We are working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Innovate UK and the Scottish Government’s water industry team, amongst others, to launch an innovative new fund for ideas to recover phosphorous and other priority chemicals from our water supply.

The £800,000 competition aims to develop innovative solutions through private-public sector collaboration to recover the phosphorus and other nutrients and chemicals from water, and put to a beneficial use elsewhere.

With this competition, a number of agencies are working putting their resources together to unlock this expertise. This is a very exciting opportunity for Scotland as this competition could lead to Scotland becoming a more circular economy, and help SMEs access global opportunities.

This is the first competition of its kind. This competition is the first by a public agency in Scotland to use the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a process which connects public sector challenges with innovative ideas from small companies, microbusinesses and spinouts across all sectors.

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter. Launch events in Inverness (on January 12) and later this month in Edinburgh (January 29) will hopefully inspire a range of interested parties to come forward with ideas.

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