Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Wallace Corp backs Ligar to commercialise novel polymers

Wallace Corp backs Ligar to commercialise novel polymer products

by Fiona Rotherham

Feb. 12 (BusinessDesk) - Ligar, a startup developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), has secured an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wallace Corp, operator of New Zealand's largest animal products rendering facility, to fund a range of industrial trials that could see it commercialise some products this year.

Ligar is developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for purification and extraction that solve a growing need for many industries to extract both valuable and unwanted substances, such as consumable liquids, dissolved minerals, water or ingredients used in manufacturing.

It has already used its specially-designed molecules to remove agri-chemicals and smoke taint from wine and is now investigating food and beverage purification and metal extraction.

The science behind Ligar originated and continues to be developed by its chief scientific officer Miruna Petcu, supported by a polymer development team at Wintec. The technology has been in development for three years and the spin-out company set up in 2013 in a partnership between WaikatoLink, Waikato University’s commercialisation arm, and Wintec subsidiary LearningWorks, which is commercialising its MIP research.

Pectu said molecularly imprinted polymers are like hungry plastic sponges that can be formed into any shape to exactly mirror and bind to any sized target in a solution.

Previously MPIs could only sense and detect molecules but Ligar’s technology also allows them to effectively filter and extract wanted and unwanted ones and at a speed and quantity that opens up a wide range of commercial applications for the first time.

Graham Shortland, Wallace Corporation chief executive, said it was keen to invest in innovative technology that allowed it to deliver more value from its raw materials.

“We first became interested in Ligar’s technology due to its potential to recover chromium used to tan hides, which makes good financial and environmental sense. We quickly saw that Ligar’s novel technology had commercial potential in a wide range of areas so we invested in the whole business.”

Shortland said the technology, if proven, could save the company’s tanning operations hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in chromium costs as it will be able to recycle and reuse chromium and reduce its environmental footprint.

Two years ago Wallace Corp invested in another WaikatoLink spin-out, Aduro Biopolymers, which has developed a biopolymer from the bloodmeal produced from its rendering business. It's a more environmentally-friendly replacement for petrochemical biopolymers used when dressing sheep at the meatworks and adds value to bloodmeal which is typically just a commodity product, Shortland said.

Aduro has also just signed a manufacturing agreement for New Zealand, Australia and south-east Asia with US-based Eastern Bioplastics to develop an absorbent biopolymer pad based on chicken feathers that can be used to soak up oil.

Ligar chief executive Nigel Slaughter said the Wallace Corp investment was timely because it had identified a number of high potential market opportunities with industry partners offshore.

“Wine is a good example. The Australian state of Victoria lost A$100 million in 2009 alone due to smoke taint in wine caused by bushfires. Over the last few years that figure would total close to half a billion dollars, and that’s just one contaminant in one part of the world,” he said.

Metal recovery from industrial processes was another area being investigated because currently 20 percent of the chromium used in the tanning process ends up in landfill along with removing arsenic from water used in production processes.

One of the highest value opportunities could be extracting rare earth elements that are in huge demand worldwide for use in mobile phones and other high tech products including electric cars, Slaughter said.

Ligar has had $436,000 in investment from KiwiNet’s PreSeed Accelerator Fund, with the funding matched by WaikatoLink and Wintec.

BusinessDesk receives funding from Callaghan Innovation to assist coverage of commercialisation of innovation.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


National: National Backs Businesses With $10k JobStart

National will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff as part of our commitment to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, National Party Leader Todd Muller and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have announced. Our JobStart ... More>>


DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>


Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>


ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>


Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>


RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>


Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>


Auckland Airport: Thousands Of Kiwis Travelling For Queen’s Birthday Weekend

Confidence in domestic travel is beginning to steadily ramp up, with thousands of Kiwis travelling within New Zealand for Queen’s Birthday.
Nearly 400 flights will be operating to and from Auckland Airport over the long weekend... More>>


Science Media Centre: Understanding 5G Concerns – Expert Q&A

Recent attacks on cell phone towers have brought concerns over the rollout of 5G technology into sharp relief.
While scientific research has consistently shown that the technology does not adversely affect human health, public concerns about its impact have spread around the world, fueled in part by growing misinformation online. The SMC asked experts to comment... More>>


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>


RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>


Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>


Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>