Science firm receives £150k funding to develop use of unique anti-virus coating

Dr Joseph Houghton
X The Business Desk

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A Cheshire-based science business has been awarded £150,000 in funding to develop its innovative textile coating to replace the use of metal-based chemicals for the antimicrobial treatment of fabric and textiles.

Virustatic, a protein science innovation SME, based at Alderley Park, has been awarded a prestigious award of £150,000 funding and intensive mentoring from the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) Creative R&D Programme.

It is one of only 10 UK companies that were successful in their funding bid, from more than 140 new applications.

The firm is most well known for researching and developing materials and products for pandemic prevention, including the unique protein coating that features on the face covering, the Virustatic Shield.

The money is funding the salary of sustainable chemist, Dr Joseph Houghton, who has joined the 15-strong Virustatic team for 18 months.

He will help to deliver the project of testing on new circular and biodegradable sustainable materials. The project also includes the development of an innovative method of home coating for textiles and materials, including those in face coverings, so that the protein-based coating can be reapplied at home and the effective lifecycle of the face coverings extended.

Lucy Hope, Virustatic’s development director, said: “We are delighted with the BFTT’s recognition of our sustainability-driven, innovative textile coating, and the support and opportunity this award will bring.

“We have already welcomed Dr Joseph Houghton to our team which will help us drive our project forward in partnership with world leading sustainability experts at the University of Leeds and University of the Arts London (UAL).

“The R&D project will be focusing on developing our innovative textile coating to replace the use of metal-based chemicals for the antimicrobial treatment of fabric and textiles, with the project set to complete in February 2023.

Also, we will look to enhance the formulation of the coating so it can be used across a range of textiles, including home furnishings, or in collaboration with other fashion and accessories businesses, with ideas already under way for gloves and scarves.”

Virustatic will receive a comprehensive support package from BFTT, including a part-time researcher to deliver the project, mentoring from leading academics in green chemistry and materials innovation, hands-on specialist creative and technical advice, as well as ongoing project management and strategic business support.

The awarded funding comes in an already successful year for Virustatic with the business having secured three other UK funded projects for its technology in 2021, including a previous £150,000 at the end of June from the National Biofilms Innovation Centre – NBIC.

Lucy, added: “We look forward to shaping the future of the antimicrobial textiles sector in order to replace the use of harmful metal-based chemicals across the fashion and textile industry.”

Nikki Matthews, creative R&D programme manager, said on Virustatic joining the programme: “From the programme’s first cohort funded in 2020, we have seen how SME’s can be incredibly agile and creative, and the real difference that focused R&D can make to the business.

“This programme will provide Virustatic with multi disciplinary and multi sector expertise, to accelerate the innovation of sustainable business models, processes and products.”

This new award brings the total investment by BFTT – including this Creative R&D Programme, and collaborative research across three additional BFTT projects – to approximately £2.8m across 35 SME’s, with the creation of at least 20 jobs.

Prof Jane Harris, BFTT programme director, said: “Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical to the economy and critical to the creative sector in particular, making up over 95% of creative businesses in the UK.

“The BFTT R&D programme seeks to highlight the value and impact SMEs can have in our sector and on the economy, when provided with the right type of financial support and research expertise.”

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