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Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 9 June 2014
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Aduro Biopolymers has developed Novatein – a novel bioplastic that is made from bloodmeal (a byproduct of the red meat industry). Under the right conditions, Novatein is biodegradable, yet it also has properties that are comparable to petrochemical-based plastics. In this video clip, Darren Harpur (Acting CEO, Aduro Biopolymers) and Johan Verbeek (chemical engineer, Waikato University) explain the diverse applications of Novatein, with a focus on agriculture, horticulture and meat processing. They describe the path towards commercialisation of Novatein, the search for investment and the recent partnership between Aduro Biopolymers and Meat & Livestock Australia.

Key question
Why might it make sense to develop a new product from an industrial byproduct?

Teaching point
Students could explore other sources of bioplastics by viewing the Biospife Innovation story.
Biospife

Transcript

Darren Harpur
So Novatein is a bioplastic, and it’s a bioplastic made of bloodmeal, bloodmeal being a co-product of the red meat industry out of rendering. The bloodmeal is turned into a bioplastic, and we come up with granules, what we call Novatein granules, and those Novatein granules can be used by product manufacturers to manufacture a whole range of products.

Dr Johan Verbeek
The essence of the innovation that we are working with is taking a byproduct of one industry and turning it into a higher-value product. We take the dried material, turn it through our process and turn it into a plastic, and that’s of greater value, and that gives extra increment of profit over the original product.

Darren Harpur
So Novatein’s applications can be in a whole range, if you like, anything to be used in the agricultural or horticultural sector, so we could be talking like weedmat pegs, could be talking pots, there’s a whole range of products using the meat processing industry which are short life. And then we also have the bioplastic properties of biodegradation and rapid absorption by the environment, under the right conditions, of course, with properties that are comparable or near to petrochemical plastic.

Dr Johan Verbeek
There was sort of a wave worldwide to start looking at proteins again. You know, bloodmeal, we thought, “Oh, that’s protein. A protein is a polymer. A polymer is a plastic.” And we sort of put, you know, two and two together and the idea was born.

Darren Harpur
Aduro Biopolymers has been working up a number of collaborations over the years. More recently, we’ve come up with a partnership with Meat & Livestock Australia, which is a red meat industry association based in Australia, and our partnership with them is a co-funding arrangement for product development.

Dr Johan Verbeek
A lot of people have put in a tremendous amount of effort to get it, you know, to a point where it has commercial interest and to the point where companies see us as a serious entity.

Darren Harpur
Novatein’s been in development for about 5 or 6 years now, and, you know, WaikatoLink’s role is in trying to transfer the technology into the market.

Dr Johan Verbeek
The biggest struggle to now from 2007 onwards was actually getting funding. You know, we’ve been funding, you know, developing everything on a shoestring budget, but until recently, you know, a good serious chunk of cash was what was missing in pushing this forward.

Darren Harpur
Now we’ve targeted and have on board Wallace Corporation as a key investor in that, and that gives us enough traction and go-forward to start developing a range of products for Novatein. It’s very rewarding, not only for myself, but, you know, for others in the WaikatoLink team that have been involved in this project since 2008.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013