Warning Label Wins Backing from US Business High Flier
Released: Sunday 26th February 2012
An ingenious invention that warns when food or other products are about to expire has won backing from an influential figure in the American aviation industry.
The UWI Label, developed in Scotland, is activated when a jar or other packaging is opened and is set to revolutionise safety in sectors as diverse as medicines, cosmetics and food & drink.
One of its biggest potential uses is in the use of time-sensitive industrial glues and sealants, common in aircraft manufacture and maintenance - which has inspired Douglas Cribbes to join UWI Technology as a non-executive director.
Cribbes is the President and CEO of Fort Worth-based Texas Aero Engine Services LLC, a joint venture between giants Rolls Royce and American Airlines and has an impressive 35-year-career in the global aviation sector.
The Glasgow-born businessman is also a member of Scottish Enterprise’s GlobalScot mentoring and support scheme, which sees successful business figures across the globe help nurture and develop Scottish business talent.
He said: “I am delighted to be working with an innovation like this and genuinely hope my contacts in North America will help make this one of the great Scottish exports of the early 21st century.
With his appointment, UWI Label is a step closer to landing the £1.1 million investment, which will support launch into several markets. With the company expected to achieve an £80 million valuation within five years, major investment consortia in the UK are already circling while a group of potential investors have been identified in the US.
He added: “Even on paper it was obvious to me that UWI Label could have important uses in the aviation sector. When I actually got to see it, my mind started racing with the possibilities.
“I am genuinely excited at how this could bring far-reaching improvements in the way the industry works with industrial glues and sealants in many different ways.
“There are all sorts of calibrations, scheduled checks and critical application issues where we have to adhere to the tightest of procedures and meet compliance standards which are entirely time dependent. UWI Label technology could impact on many of them.”
UWI Label Inventor Pete Higgins was inspired after he almost served out-of-date mayonnaise - which can cause chronic sickness and diarrhoea - to his young son. He was determined to come up with a solution to protect health, reduce waste and save money.
He’s spent two years working with scientists at Heriot-Watt university to develop UWI Label, which reacts as a soon as a food jar or packaging is opened, then begins a simple visual countdown to show exactly when a product expires – green while the product is safe and red when it is not.
He said: “We’re delighted Douglas is giving us his backing. At a stroke his endorsement gives us global credibility, while his reputation and contacts will help us with access to decision makers we could only have dreamt of reaching previously.”
Earlier this month the UWI Label won Scottish Enterprise’s Life Science Award for Innovation at a glittering ceremony in Edinburgh – putting the product on the map in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors.
The win underlined how UWI Technology could improve safety and reduce waste in time-sensitive products such as sun creams and cosmetics, medicines, test chemicals, sterile equipment and contact lens cleaner. Elsewhere it is also being studied as a potential anti-counterfeiting tool for pharmaceuticals in tablet form and the high value spirits market.
Pete added: “The technology is suitable for any sector where products have a critical shelf life once opened, but life science and industrial glues and sealants are our initial main areas of focus.
“With that in mind, this has been a momentous month, with the award putting us on the map in Life Sciences sector, while having Douglas on board is the best validation we could have hoped for.
“It’s been a long hard slog to get here, but it looks like 2012 will be our breakthrough year. We are now at the most exciting stage with multiple investors interested, the product months away from mass production and an important patent pending.”
The aviation sector in the US is heavily regulated. Regular spot checks are carried out to ensure glues and sealants used in the construction and maintenance of aircraft are within extremely strict ‘safe to use’ time limits. Any breaches can cause major disruption and even regulatory fines.
Last year Pete’s ingenious invention landed a £50,000 top prize in the UK-wide Barclays bank Take One Small Step competition. That money has been invested in accelerating the development and UWI Label is now with an industrial manufacturer to develop for mass production.
Note to Editors:
Douglas Cribbes was appointed President and CEO Texas Aero Engine Services LLC (TAESL) for a second term in July 2010. TAESL is the Rolls-Royce and American Airlines engine overhaul and maintenance joint-venture facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
Previously he was Senior Vice President for Aftermarket and Customer Services for the company’s Corporate and Regional Aircraft business.
Douglas joined Rolls-Royce as a graduate trainee in 1976 and has worked in East Kilbride, Derby, Montreal, Canada, Virginia and Texas in roles including engine performance, R&D and customer support.
Born in Glasgow, he studied at Glasgow Caledonian University, McGill University, Montreal, Amos Tuck Business School in New Hampshire, graduating in engineering, marketing and business studies.
Issued on behalf of UWI Technology by the Holyrood Partnership. Contact Scott Douglas on 0131 561 2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org