From Carrots to Composites

26 February 2007

A high-tech new material made from the humble carrot is expected to begin to replace materials such as glass fibre and carbon fibre in composite components.

Invented by two entrepreneurial scientists, Dr David Hepworth and Dr Eric Whale, it is hoped that Curran will herald a new age of environmentally friendly products that bring together the best qualities of natural and artificial materials to give a unique combination of strength, stiffness, weight and toughness. Through a special process, nano fibres found in carrots are extracted and combined with high-tech resins enabling tough, durable components to be moulded.

Through their company CelluComp Ltd, the duo will initially enter the sporting goods market with the launch in March of Just Cast, a unique, high performance range of fly fishing rods offering lengths of 7.5 – 10 feet. As well as retailing direct to consumers, CelluComp plans to enter into a number of strategic partnerships and talks are on-going with some of the biggest brands in the fishing equipment market.

David said: “Curran is incredibly versatile and we believe that we are launching at a time when companies are looking for that combination of quality and performance but achieved in a way that is environmentally friendly. The potential of Curran is enormous and if we can replace just a small percentage of carbon fibre in products the effects on the environment could be significant and wide ranging. The irony is that the main ingredient for achieving this major step forward has been with us all along.”

He added: “When assessing what market offered us the best entry opportunity we opted for the sporting goods market as it is more receptive to new materials. There is a £7 billion market worldwide for fishing rods and Europe, which will be our initial target, is one of the biggest individual markets. Our Just Cast range offers unique power and control in all environments and will help fisherman to safeguard the environment they take so much pleasure from.”

A client of Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Start-Up Unit, CelluComp was launched in 2004 with funding secured from a Scottish Executive SMART Award, Scottish Enterprise Business Growth Fund, Halifax Bank of Scotland load and founder equity. CelluComp now aims to achieve rapid growth and David and Eric are already at work on their next product venture that will see them enter the snowboard market.

Campbell Murray, Head of the Scottish Enterprise High Growth Start-Up Unit, said: “CelluComp has a unique product and it is arriving at a time when the trend across all businesses is towards having a greater focus on the environment and corporate social responsibility. The flexibility of Curran and the performance it can deliver opens up a wide number of market opportunities. This is continuing proof that Scottish companies are at the forefront of technological innovation on a global level.”

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