Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Seeding Business Success

Clear Day

An entrepreneurial Canterbury company is giving the term ‘seed capital’ a new meaning, and its new technology could lead to an increase in local content in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.

Solvent Rescue hopes its unique design solvent distillation plant will provide the impetus for a promising new industry in extracting oil from oilseeds, and at the same time prove a useful diversification for the farming sector.

The company has just completed trials using Meadowfoam, a new crop from Oregon now being grown by a group of South Otago farmers. Chris Bathurst, of Solvent Rescue says Meadowfoam seed oil is used internationally for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and industrial uses, replacing traditional sperm whale oil. It is excellent for using in lipstick compounds, for example, and could prove to be a more environmentally acceptable substitute to whale oil.

“We have developed a way to extract more oil from the same amount of seed,” he says. “Traditional mechanical extraction gives an 18% oil yield. We can lift this to around 28% by using solvent extraction and distillation, which also gives a much higher return to the producer.”

Solvent Rescue’s core business is as obvious as its name and a far cry from the delicate seed extraction techniques it is now pursuing. But the expertise gained in dealing with hazardous waste like paint solvents, dry cleaning sludges and chemicals has stood the company in good stead for its diversification.

“We received a grant from Technology New Zealand’s Grants for Private Sector Research and Development (GPSRD) which helped us test the new technology,” he says. “Although we are using the same basic principle, there were some big questions we needed to address before we knew whether it would work and how we could move from the conventional technology with its drawbacks.

“Technology New Zealand funding helped us move through to a positive outcome, although we confirmed that setting up new technology or seed oil extraction was an expensive exercise.”

John Gibson, investment manager of the GPSRD fund at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, says the R&D project fits nicely in the criteria for funding assistance –helping a technical or technological risk taker. The fund is intended to encourage small and medium enterprise private investment in R&D, by providing up to one third of the cost of the research. While Meadowfoam seed has been the focus for the initial development, other seeds that contain valuable oil could be successfully processed by this method.

Chris Bathurst says it offers a value-added industry for New Zealand. “Traditionally, seeds are sent overseas for extraction and once they leave here there is no chance to do any secondary processing or add value. We believe we can use the technology to create a plant that can be run economically for the small New Zealand market, but big enough to be a commercial entity.

Trials are underway to check the economics of production and Chris Bathurst is confident that another innovative niche industry could develop.

Backgrounder Grants for Private Sector R&D

*This is the newest scheme run under the Technology New Zealand umbrella, launched in September 2000.

*Grants are targeted specifically to technologically aware SMEs (less than $50m turnover). The aim is to increase the level of private sector expenditure in R&D.

*Support of up to 33.3% of R&D investments, to a maximum of $100,000 is available for qualifying projects.

*Latest figures show that around $1.5m per month is being invested in private sector R&D projects by GPSRD.

*The scheme has invested nearly $12million in the R&D programmes of 201 companies, to the end of May 2001

*GPSRD is the first of the Technology New Zealand schemes to operate exclusively via the Internet, with initial registration through its website,

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Scoop 3.0: How You Can Help Scoop’s Evolution

We have big plans for 2018 as we look to expand our public interest journalism coverage, upgrade our publishing infrastructure and offer even more valuable business tools to commercial users of Scoop. More>>

Statistics: Butter At Record $5.67/Block; High Vegetable Prices

Rising dairy prices have pushed food prices up 2.7 percent in the year to October 2017, Stats NZ said today. This followed a 3.0 percent increase in the year to September 2017. More>>


Science: New Research Finds Herbicides Cause Antibiotic Resistance

New University of Canterbury research confirms that the active ingredients of the commonly used herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively), each alone cause antibiotic resistance at concentrations well below label application rates. More>>


CO2 And Water: Fonterra's Environment Plans

Federated Farmers support Fonterra’s bold push to get to zero emissions of CO2 on the manufacturing side of the Co-operative, both in New Zealand and across its global network. More>>


Fisheries: Decision To Delay Monitoring ‘Fatally Flawed’

Conservation group representatives say a decision by the new Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, to delay implementation of camera monitoring of fishing efforts in New Zealand is ‘fatally flawed’. More>>


Kaikōura Quakes: One Year On

State Highway One and the railway were blocked by damage and slips and the Inland Road suffered significant damage. Farms, homes and businesses suffered building and land damage. Power and internet went down, drinking water systems, sewage systems and local roads were all badly affected... More>>


  • Bill Bennett on Tech