Xampla at the Science Museum for half term

The Science Museum has invited Xampla, creator of natural alternatives to single-use plastic, to be a key exhibitor in its “Future Explorers” activity this October half term.  

Showcasing its innovation in creating the world’s first plant protein material, Xampla will help children from the age of 7 to think about how the world will change by 2050.

As part of the week of action, Xampla will show young visitors to the museum how to identify microplastics and their harmful impact on the ocean through games and interactive demonstrations. 

Xampla’s team of experts will be on site in South Kensington to engage with families as part of the company’s continued efforts to boost STEM education for the next generation.

The product of more than 15 years’ research at Cambridge University, Xampla has developed a plant protein material that mimics the molecular structure of spider silk, creating a strong, flexible and entirely natural alternative to single-use plastic. Its technology has applications in flexible films used in packaging, microcapsules used to contain fragrances in household products and nutrients in food and drink.

The Science Museum partnership comes as Xampla prepares to commercialise its products for customers across a range of industries.

Xampla CEO, Simon Hombersley, said: “We are incredibly proud to be invited to partner with the Science Museum. At Xampla, our team of experts has a real passion for taking science out into the real world to educate the next generation about STEM careers.  We hope to inspire some of the children we meet this half term to be tomorrow’s scientists and innovators, seeking to improve the world around them.  

“The activity will be ‘hands on’ and will be about getting young people really excited about science and the impact a career in this field can have.  We will then be building on this programme of outreach over the next year with more events and activities to get involved with.”

Laura Southall, Head of Learning at the Science Museum, said: “We’re excited to be joined by Xampla to ignite the curiosity of young visitors this October half term as we explore the effects of and solutions to microplastics in our environment.”

The Future Explorers activities will be taking place at the Science Museum, London, between 25th-29th October. For more information visit: https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/future-explorers 

XAMPLA AT NO 7 IN THE TIMES ‘ONES TO WATCH’

Xampla is delighted to be featured today as no 7 in The Times ‘Ones To Watch: Bright Ideas For A Bright Future’. James Hurley writes

“Thanks in part to BBC’s Blue Planet II, consumer awareness of the evils of single-use plastics has never been higher. The mission of Xampla, a Cambridge University spinout, is to replace everyday single-use plastics with its alternative based on plant protein. The company says the material, the first of its type to be commercialised, has the convenience of plastic but decomposes naturally and without harming the environment. It hopes to offer an alternative in ares such as packaging films and sachets as well as for microplastics used in cosmetics, agriculture and industrial products and the like. The material was inspired by the process a spider uses to create silk, and stems from a breakthrough by Professor Tuomas Knowles and Dr Marc Rodriguez Garcia, protein experts at Cambridge. In January the company secured £6.2 million in fresh funds from Horizons Ventures.”

Gousto trials world’s first edible packaging made from pea protein

Edible stock cube packaging created with University of Cambridge spinout, Xampla 

Gousto is trialling a world-first edible packaging solution, as part of its efforts to continue reducing plastic packaging in its recipe boxes. 

After 15 years of research and one year of development, the stock cube wrapper is the world’s first edible packaging to be made from pea protein. Created in partnership with Xampla, a mission based spinout from the University of Cambridge, the stock cube will be trialled in Gousto recipe boxes this month.

The edible packaging is made by engineering and drying a pea protein material into sheets that have the same benefits as plastic, being able to preserve the food’s flavour and shelf life, but with none of the packaging waste. What’s more, the material is also vegan and gluten free.

Home cooks who take part in the trial will enjoy the vegetable stock cube in Gousto’s Indian Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup recipe, by simply dissolving the stock cube and its packaging in hot water.

Following its first full year of profitability in 2020, the recipe box company recently became a certified B Corporation™, joining a global community of businesses that are committed to growing the right way for people and the planet, including Xampla. 

This was achieved in part by Gousto’s ongoing work to reduce plastic packaging in their recipe boxes. Last year the business cut plastic by 50% in their boxes by switching to more cardboard packaging and launching the Eco Chill Box, an innovative insulator made of recycled cardboard, that keeps ingredients fresh in boxes. 

A further 17 tonnes of plastic could be saved by Gousto annually if the new edible stock cube packaging is rolled out in full to customers in the future.

The edible stock cube packaging is being trialed to replace Gousto’s existing stock mix sachets, for a packaging-free stock that’s full of flavour.

Gousto CEO and founder Timo Boldt said; “At Gousto, our purpose is to build products that have a positive impact on people and the planet and we invest in innovations that will help us get there. We are so proud of our Eco Chill Box and the significant amount of plastic we cut from our boxes as a result. This partnership with Xampla is another super exciting step towards reducing plastic packaging even further.”

We’re excited to see what our customers think, and to continue paving the way for innovative sustainable solutions in our industry.”

The new innovation comes after a recent study by environmental services company Foodsteps revealed that dinners from Gousto produce 23% less carbon emissions than equivalent meals from supermarket stores. If every home in the country replaced supermarket dinners with meals from Gousto for just one year, 10.3 million tonnes of CO2e could be saved, the same as taking nearly 140,000 buses off the road for a year.

Xampla CEO Simon Hombersley said; “This world-first edible pea protein packaging is the product of 15 years of University of Cambridge research, and over a year of development with the Gousto team. We’re so excited to be working with the recipe box company to offer more sustainable alternatives to plastic, and hope this marks the beginning of significant change within the industry and many more innovative packaging solutions in the future.” 

The edible packaging is available now for customers to choose to add to deliveries from 6th-12th November, as part of the Indian Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup recipe.  

The future of fragrance: creating plant based, biodegradable fragrance microcapsules

By Lynette Holland, Principal Scientist

Over 20 years ago I began my product development career in the Fragrance and FMCG industries. In more than two decades I have witnessed – and worked on – my fair share of product innovations responsible for enhancing consumer experience.

Now having joined the team at Xampla, innovation has taken on a whole new meaning. Responding to impending regulation, we are working on solutions for industry that build on the ground-breaking plastic product developments of yesterday to substitute them with sustainable, plant-based alternatives that mean businesses do not need to compromise on the consumer experience their products provide.

Our plant protein material is the product of 15 years’ research at the University of Cambridge. It performs like conventional plastic but is fully biodegradable. Developed by an expert team with a background in industry, we are uncompromising in our regard for the consumer experience. Our material has applications across many single-use plastic products, and one of our core launch products will be our microcapsules.

Plastic fragrance microcapsules are set to be regulated under the ECHA microplastics ban which will prevent the release of 500,000 tonnes of microplastics over 20 years.  As they are too small to be collected at end of life they present a real environmental challenge that needs to be overcome. Yet, whilst necessary, this regulation puts the known-and-loved consumer experience of fresh scent bloom and longevity in our home and personal care products at risk.

This has driven fragrance microcapsules to be a pressing product application for the team at Xampla. After years of R&D our ground-breaking material is uniquely able to encapsulate fragrance, without needing to use any hazardous chemicals to create the shell to protect the fragrance. There is no chemical cross-linking which means our material is biodegradable.  

Not only is this a breakthrough for the planet, it will also help to futureproof brands against further regulatory changes surrounding microplastics. This means that consumers can continue to enjoy the same fragrance experience they are used to without a change in performance. What’s more, Xampla’s fragrance microcapsules are designed to fit with existing encapsulation processes, minimising adverse impacts on the supply chain.

Far from being a one-size fits all approach, we tailor our products to our customer in order to support brands in evolving their product line for a sustainable future. Our fragrance microcapsules will be launching soon, but in the meantime, you can find out more and discuss your development needs by contacting info@xampla.com.

Xampla continues growth with business development hire

CREATOR of natural alternatives to single-use plastic, Xampla, has welcomed Stanley Mitchell as Business Development Manager to support the firm as it prepares to launch its first products. 

Stanley joins Xampla from his role as Innovation Consultant at Innovia Technology, where he worked with multinational corporations to develop and deploy new technologies across various sectors including healthcare, FMCG, oil and gas, and aerospace.

With these latest appointments, Xampla’s expert team has grown to 21 employees, after only making its first hire in January last year. Most recently, Xampla brought on Katrina Curl to head up Marketing and Communications. 

Xampla’s continued growth follows funding rounds with leading tech investors Horizons Ventures and Amadeus Capital Partners. 

The product of more than 15 years’ research at Cambridge University, Xampla’s plant protein material mimics the molecular structure of spider silk, creating a strong, flexible and entirely natural alternative to single-use plastic. Its technology has applications in flexible films, microcapsules and coatings. 

Xampla CEO, Simon Hombersley, said: “Xampla is at an exciting point of growth and we are delighted to welcome Stanley to further bolster our team of experts. After years of research and development, we are now at the point of commercialising our products with customers and his expertise will be extremely valuable in this next stage for Xampla.

“More and more people are seeking plastic alternatives in a bid to reduce their environmental impact. Stanley is joining our group of experts committed to our mission of reducing plastic pollution and we look forward to harnessing his knowledge as we launch our initial products.”

XAMPLA FINALIST AT KATERVA AWARDS

Xampla is proud to be a finalist at the Katerva awards in the ‘Energy and Environment’ categories. 

Often referred to as ‘the Nobel Prize of Sustainability’, the awards feature ideas that leap efficiency, lifestyle and create action that is a generation ahead of current thinking.

Xampla adds senior comms hire to expert team

Xampla, has welcomed new Head of Marketing and Communications Katrina Curl to develop the company’s partnerships with customers and brands as it prepares to launch its first products.


Katrina joins Xampla with more than a decade’s experience in marketing and branding, having led the communications strategies of household names in FMCG, retail and tech.


She spent three years working with Unilever, delivering new purpose positioning, brand strategy and product launch campaigns for Surf across Europe, Africa and Asia.


Katrina has also worked with Britvic, leading an integrated campaign team to brand and bring to market Robinsons Refresh’d. The product was subsequently named the number one soft drinks innovation in 2017, according to Neilson data.


She honed her craft at top UK agencies including BBH London, Creature of London and DLKW Lowe, and joins Xampla from VCCP where she led the Canon account across EMEA, delivering brand strategy.


Xampla’s expert team has grown to more than 20 members after making its first hire in January 2020. Its continued growth follows funding rounds with leading tech investors Horizons Ventures and Amadeus Capital Partners.


The company is now poised to engage its first customers, with Katrina playing a vital role in communicating Xampla’s brand and value proposition.


New Head of Marketing and Communications, Katrina Curl, said: “Xampla’s potential to have a global impact on plastic pollution is what drew me to join the team. Its material is the answer brands have been looking for, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to develop and lead the strategy that communicates this to our customer-base and beyond.”

Xampla CEO, Simon Hombersley, said: “There couldn’t be a better time for Katrina to have joined our team. She brings key expertise from her work with Unilever, Britvic and other FMCGs that will be crucial in showcasing what our material can do. We’re all looking forward to seeing the science behind our material come to life through Katrina’s work.”

Xampla is recruiting

Xampla is currently recruiting a Project Assistant, a Protein Scientist, a Commercial Development Executive and a Product Development Manager for Food. For further details or to apply please email faye@xampla.com

Or if you share our mission and you’re interested in joining our fast growing team, feel free to send over a speculative CV – we look forward to hearing from you.  You can also see the team introducing the company here.

Research Published in Nature Communications

NEW research published today in Nature Communications could signal the end of fossil fuel single-use plastics as the science behind a new plant protein substitute is made public.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge Knowles Lab describe how they can create a polymer film from plant protein that is sustainable, scalable and 100 percent natural.

Made entirely from plant protein which can be sourced as a by-product of the agriculture industry, the resulting material can be consumed in nature after use like any natural waste, leaving no pollutants behind.

The material’s functionality is consistent with conventional plastic, but it requires no chemical cross-linking used in bio-polymers to give them the strength and flexibility of plastic.

The chemicals used in cross-linking are often unsustainable and can even leave toxic pollutants behind once disposed of.

The research shows how the scientists are able to naturally assemble plant proteins so the final structure is very similar to spider silk. The breakthrough is the first time these structures have been shown in a material that derives from plant protein.

Through a process involving acetic acid and water, ultrasonication and heat, the plant proteins are transformed in an energy-efficient way using easily obtainable, sustainable ingredients.

Xampla, the Cambridge University spin-out commercialising the technology, is developing its applications to replace single-use plastics including flexible packaging films, sachets, microcapsules found in home and personal care products, and carrier bags.

The paper is the culmination of more than 10 years’ research into understanding how nature generates materials from proteins.

The scientists were inspired by spiders’ silk which is weight-for-weight stronger than steel but has weak molecular bonds, meaning it can break down easily.  They sought to understand the building blocks of this natural phenomenon, with the aim to create a material with the same molecular properties.

Professor Tuomas Knowles who led the research said: “One of the key breakthroughs is that we can supply this product on a large scale, and it can replace plastic in very specific applications. We have proved it’s possible to solve the single-use plastics problem.”

Dr Marc Rodriguez Garcia, co-author of the paper and Xampla’s Head of Research said: “It’s amazing to realise that a discovery you make in a lab can have a big impact on solving a global problem. That’s essentially why we are doing this – we really love the science, but we also wanted to do something meaningful about solving the overwhelming problem of plastic waste.”

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of international campaign group A Plastic Planet said: “This is a huge breakthrough for all the naysayers who want to back the status quo and still tout recycling as the answer to the plastic crisis.

“We have to be forward-looking. We have to get excited about new technologies and materials because these are the innovations that will break our addiction to plastic. This is what the future must be about – no greenwashing, no fossil fuel reliance and new, scalable technologies that put the planet first.”

See the Nature Communications article here.