The University of Nottingham has won a prestigious national prize for the economic and societal impact it has achieved by commercialising a new low salt technology - SODA-LO Salt Microspheres™
The prize was awarded at the annual PraxisUnico conference held at East Midlands Conference Centre in the ‘Impact Achieved’ category.
Recognising outstanding impact through knowledge transfer
The awards were established by PraxisUnico to recognise and celebrate the successful commercial exploitation of innovation arising from universities, charities and public sector research in the UK. They recognise those teams and individuals that have achieved outstanding impact through successful knowledge transfer.
SODA-LO™ was developed by Eminate Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University. Eminate works alongside The University of Nottingham’s Technology Transfer Office to take applied research from University academics to develop commercially viable products and services.
The use of SODA-LO™ enables salt levels to be reduced by up to 30 per cent in foods such as bread, pizza bases, pastry, savoury pie fillings, cheese and baked snacks, without loss of flavour or structure.
Licensed globally to Tate & Lyle
After the initial concept was demonstrated in the lab, Eminate staff worked with chefs and industry partners to determine how SODA-LO™ could be used to replace salt in a range of foods. The team also worked out how to scale up the manufacturing process from lab to production scale and filed for patent protection.
After completing a branding and marketing exercise, the Eminate team worked with major food producers and retailers to introduce SODA-LO™ into consumer products across the EU, US, and Australasia.
Staff at the University’s Technology Transfer Office then embarked on a search for the most appropriate exploitation partner. The search and negotiations took 12 months to complete and, as a result, SODA-LO™ was licensed to Tate & Lyle in October 2011 and launched globally the following year.
Tate & Lyle has the responsibility for commercialising the SODA-LO™ salt reduction technology on a global basis, including manufacturing, product development, sales and marketing. A patent for the technology has already been granted in the USA.
Reducing salt intake across the world
Speaking about the award, Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer at The University of Nottingham, said: “I am delighted that SODA-LO™ has won the award for ‘Business Impact – Achieved’. The global reach of the licensee, Tate and Lyle, also means that this innovative low sodium salt should have a significant impact on reducing salt intake around the world, and the incidence of diseases linked to high salt diets.”
Dr David Park, Managing Director of Eminate, added: “We always knew that SODA-LO™ had huge potential across the food sector. Food manufacturers are queuing up to use it to reduce the salt content in food products, helping to improve the health of consumers around the world. This is also a great example of how the Open Innovation model can support the rapid commercialisation of innovative ideas into commercial products.”
Dr Douglas Robertson, PraxisUnico Chairman rounded said: “My congratulations go to all who participated and, in particular, the winners. These success stories demonstrate the diversity of activities emerging from university and research laboratories.”
There were over 75 entries for the PraxisUnico Impact Awards and this was the third Impact award won by The University of Nottingham since the competition started in 2009.
Photo shows, left to right: Sir Tim Wilson (awards presenter); David Park, Managing Director of Eminate; Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer, University of Nottingham; Gary Evans, Head of IP Management and Legal Services, University of Nottingham; Dr Douglas Robertson, Chairman of PraxisUnico.
SODA-LO™ Salt Microspheres have been created using a technology that turns standard salt crystals into free-flowing crystalline microspheres. These smaller, lower-density crystals efficiently deliver salty taste by maximising surface area relative to volume, enabling salt content to be reduced in food without loss of flavour or structure.
SODA-LO™ was licensed by Tate & Lyle in 2011 and launched globally in 2012. The product has received top accolades in the food trade, recognised in 2012 as the ‘Heart Health and Circulatory Innovation of the Year’ and the overall ‘Most Innovative Health Ingredient of the Year’ at the NuW Awards in Frankfurt.