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Food tech trailblazer OSY Group has received new financial backing to accelerate its international growth ambitions for its flagship technology which increases the shelf-life of fresh produce and reduces waste.

A five-figure grant from Innovate UK Business Growth under its Global Explorers Programme will help OSY Group to advance partnership opportunities and undertake research as it looks to enter markets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region with Xtend, an antimicrobial packaging coating.

Xtend enables a range of food items, such as fruit and vegetables, to stay fresh for longer by leaving microscopic pins on packaging surfaces which puncture and kill microbes, slowing the natural spoiling process that affects the produce within.

It has undergone extensive testing in the UK at independent laboratories, universities and other facilities, which has proven the technology to be food safe and compliant with the Food Contact Materials regulations for fresh produce.

OSY Group is set to bring Xtend to market in the UK and internationally over the next few months, and has previously raised £1m from individual investors to support its development. The company is based at the Manchester International Office Centre near Manchester Airport.

The latest funding for OSY Group, which takes Innovate UK’s overall backing for the business so far to more than £500,000, will enable the company to accelerate research and development projects so it can better understand how the technology can be utilised in other markets and climates.

Marc Braterman, chief executive of OSY Group, said: “Having proven our technology in fresh fruit in the UK, we now wish to understand how Xtend can be adapted for different markets, and it’s great to have the support of Innovate UK as we seek to maximise opportunities overseas.

“Our technology tackles a global problem whereby one-third of all food goes to waste, and this contributes between eight and 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“The demand for our product is evident, and this latest funding will enable us to accelerate our research and development on fresh produce in other types of packaging and climates, as well as extending to include meats, fish, poultry and bakery items.

“This will materially support our expansion on a global level by also enabling us to test the viability of new markets and to understand key variables and relevant criteria in targeted territories, as well as the regulatory environments.”

He said OSY Group is currently exploring a number of overseas commercial partnerships, as well as collaborative R&D projects abroad with universities and industry bodies.

The Global Explorers Programme, delivered by Innovate UK Business Growth, aims to support UK SMEs to carry out projects that will help them to explore global opportunities and to build research and innovation partnerships internationally with the aim of accelerating commercialisation of innovative ideas in fast-growing global markets.

Andreas Johansen, senior innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK Business Growth, said: “OSY Group is a highly innovative company which has already made promising connections overseas and wants to make the most of these opportunities.

“We are proud to be part of OSY Group’s exciting R&D journey. This includes supporting Marc and the team with innovation funding through the Innovate UK Better Food for All competition, and now with international opportunities. We look forward to continuing to support OSY Group.”