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Norfolk Business secures funding to develop globe friendly shipping solution in Norwich

Norfolk County Council, 1 September 2023 00:00

A Norfolk business is to receive £850,000 from Innovate UK to allow them to begin developing new, environmentally friendly shipping solutions in Norfolk.

iBoxit, a start-up founded in 2018 at Norwich Research Park, successfully applied for the funding to develop new, environmentally friendly packaging for the shipment of seafood. Research began at the firm's headquarters on Norwich Research Park on Friday, 1 September.

John Farley, founder and CEO of iBoxit, said: "iBoxit was created with a goal of giving something back - of creating sustainable, planet friendly packaging in the hands of businesses to allow them to ship goods in a way that does the least possible damage to the environment. Thanks to this grant, we can really get to work on our new project and start to find a way to help the fishing industry cut down on pollution while still getting fresh, healthy food to people across the country.

"We've received some wonderful support from Laura Hill and her team at Norfolk County Council, and without their help we wouldn't have this funding or this opportunity to get to work on making a key food industry less polluting and more efficient."

Norfolk County Council's Economic Development team, working with Suffolk County Council, supported iBoxit with their application to innovation funding streams, including Innovate UK, through the Innovation Grant Mentoring Project. The team offers support with advice, workshops, and by providing an innovation mentor or bid writing coach who helps a variety of business types, including micro, small and medium businesses, to develop their innovative ideas. Coaching on the bid writing process gives businesses confidence in applying for innovation funding.

Cllr Fabian Eagle, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: "We have an incredible range businesses here in Norfolk, and iBoxit - with their commitment to environmental products and drive to create viable, sustainable ways to keep goods moving - are a wonderful example of what our county's private sector is capable of achieving. By supporting businesses - not just in logistics like iBoxit, but from across all the sectors of our economy - in applying for grant funding, we can help bring world class research roles to Norfolk and show just how great a place our county is for new businesses to work and to grow."

The project aims to create a viable alternative to polystyrene for the shipping of fresh seafood. Polystyrene boxes, packed with ice, are currently the most commonly used method of transport for fresh seafood, with the Scottish fishing industry alone using around 22 million boxes a year for fresh salmon transportation. These boxes take hundreds of years to naturally degrade and result in high volumes of population in the supply chain.

IBoxit want to change that, by looking at using alternative washes of seafood prior to packaging, corrugated boxes used with reusable ice packs and reusable composite plastic boxes made of recycled plastic and strawberry plants.

With the support of Norfolk County Council, and in partnership with the UEA, iBoxit have recruited a project team to begin work on their new research this September, with the project expected to run for 30 months.

The grant, from Innovate UK, is one with the aim of supporting UK registered businesses in the development of innovative solutions to address significant nutrition challenges. iBoxit were awarded funding from Innovate UK as part of the Better Food For All programme.

Innovate UK is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. iBoxit have proposed a new solution which aims to revolutionise the packaging industry; in this instance surrounding the transportation of seafood.

This proposal builds on the strengths of iBoxit, who have previously developed a film and spray for use on seafood, which improves shelf-life of the notoriously short-lived food with no impact on the taste or nutritional benefits of the food involved.

The project comes hot on the heels of iBoxit's previous successes, including the development of a lightweight pallet system that created an environmentally, reusable alternative to wooden pallet use in shipping and logistics settings. The iBoxit pallet can cut the weights involved from 40kg of a traditional pallet to as little as 4.6kg, reducing shipping weights, costs and emissions as a result.

Other businesses based in Norfolk or Suffolk who are interested in more information on the Innovation Grant Mentoring Project, or are seeking help with their next bid, can visit our Innovation Grant Mentoring  page. 

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations.

We provide targeted sectors with expertise, facilities and funding to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth. Join our network and communities of innovators to realise the potential of your ideas and accelerate business growth.

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Last modified: 30 January 2024 13:34