University spin-out firm on the scent of success

Business news

Friday 04 January 2013

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A Coventry University spin-out company specialising in particle technology has joined forces with another Midlands-based SME to explore the potential of a pioneering new product.

Exilica, which is based on the University’s Tech Park, has developed and patented a unique technology which allows long-lasting fragrances to be manufactured into a variety of plastics and other polymer-based materials.

The company recently collaborated with Birmingham-based Barkley Plastics and fragrance firm Seven Scent to create a scented floor tile, and has this week launched a trial run of the product in toilets on Coventry University’s campus.

Using Exilica’s micro-particle technology, floor tiles manufactured by Barkley Plastics have been loaded with both a fragrance and an anti-bacterial agent, ensuring the toilets smell nice and stay clean at all times.

The particles developed by Exilica are tiny spheres which act like microscopic sponges, capable of absorbing twice their own weight in a variety of other substances – including scents – and then discharging them via a slow release chemical mechanism for several years.

What is unique about the technology is the particles’ ability to blend seamlessly into any polymer-based material without affecting that material’s properties, potentially opening the door to revolutionary applications in industries such as healthcare, cosmetics and manufacturing.

Exilica’s technology has attracted interest from as far afield as East Asia, with highlights including an invite from the Japanese government for the company to exhibit at one of the world’s foremost nanotechnology trade fairs in Tokyo.

Daniel Lynch, founder and technical director of Exilica and former reader in applied chemistry at Coventry University, said:

It’s always exciting to see a new application for our technology – even when it’s on a toilet floor. The reality is that the process we developed and patented at the University has massive, wide-ranging potential and we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what we can do with it.

Imagine a car interior which always smells new, or a plastic drinks bottle which replicates the smell of the juice inside. Imagine if you could choose the scent in each room of your house by using long-lasting, fragranced paints or wallpapers. It’s all possible.

It’s certainly a tough climate out there for small businesses and start-ups, but if you have an ambitious idea and possess patience and determination in equal measure, there’s a great deal you can do to boost your prospects. We’re always open to opportunities for collaboration, particularly with other local enterprises. Our work with Barkley Plastics on this latest initiative has been of enormous benefit to both companies, and will hopefully help to position the Midlands as a leader in novel applications as we move into 2013.

Mark Harwood, managing director of Barkley Plastics, said:

Collaboration of this kind between companies adds strength and new opportunities to existing or new products. We initially manufactured the tile tool to cover our factory floor in our own tiles with the Barkley logo, but soon visitors started enquiring about purchasing them so we rebranded it Plasfloor. One of these enquiries came from Exilica with the idea of a scented tile, so we started trials in our own toilets and the result was impressive.

A number of other small-scale trials have taken place for Exilica’s technology with a variety of companies involved in odour masking and positive fragrancing, including those exploring the use of scents in textile fibres, paints, wallpapers and automotive interiors.