Leicester researchers develop technologies to crack down on counterfeit whisky
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 March 2011
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Experts at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre are working with colleagues at De Montfort University to create a handheld device which will detect fake whisky and wine – through the bottle.
The exciting research project to crack down on counterfeit whisky and wine is being supported by The Food and Drink iNet.
The technology has already been developed by the University of Leicester team to spot counterfeit medicines by scrutinising the packaging. Now the experts are working to transfer the technology to analyse liquids in bottles.
As well as helping to stamp out the big problem of counterfeit whisky and fine wine, this could also have major potential for airline security systems, they believe.
The technique relies on detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging. Originally developed from a spectrometer designed and built by the Space Research Centre for astronomical research, the technique was adapted for use in the pharmaceutical world by the University of Leicester team in conjunction with university spin-out firm Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International Limited which is a specialist crime and security consultancy.Now the technology is being adapted again by the University of Leicester team for use in detecting fake liquids, with experts at De Montfort University providing skills in product design and rapid proto-typing so that a handheld device can be created.
“The support from the Food and Drink iNet will allow us to take the technology and apply it in the case of whisky and fine wines,” said Tim Maskell, Knowledge Transfer Manager in the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. “The iNet funding will enable us to design, build and test a laboratory prototype that will allow us to prove the technology works. If we can then take the technology and do something similar with other liquids there are potential airport security opportunities too.”
The project is one of five Collaborative Research and Development grants worth a total of more than £235,000 announced by the Food and Drink iNet, which co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. The team has been awarded £50,000 towards the almost £71,000 cost of the research project.
Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet is one of four regional iNets that has developed an effective network to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.
“This is a fascinating research project between the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, the Scotch Whisky Research Institute and Leicestershire brewery Everards, which brings together space technology and the food and drink sector and offers real commercial benefit,” said Food and Drink iNet Director Richard Worrall. “Being able to test a liquid such as whisky or wine for authenticity without opening the bottle would bring major benefits to the drinks industry, as well as having opportunities in other fields, such as airport and airline security.
“The Food and Drink iNet Collaborative Research and Development programme is designed to provide help for innovative research schemes that will benefit the food and drink sector in the future, and this is one of the more interesting and beneficial.”The team is working with The Scotch Whisky Research Institute and Leicestershire brewery Everards to help with the research and product trials.
The Food and Drink iNet aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes. It is managed by a consortium, led by the Food and Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.
For more information visit www.eminnovation.org.uk/food
Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall on 0845 521 2066.
Press release issued by Louise Duffield, Perfect 10 PR, on behalf of the Food and Drink iNet.
University of Leicester contact: Ather Mirza firstname.lastname@example.org; 0116 252 2415
De Montfort University contact: Jo Griffin - 0116 257 7021 / email@example.com
About ERDF nationally
The ERDF Programme aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by supporting regional economic development.
The ERDF objectives for England are:
· Promoting innovation and knowledge transfer
· Stimulating enterprise and supporting successful business
· Ensuring sustainable development, production and consumption
· Building sustainable communities
· Improving accessibility and connectivity (for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only – as part of their Convergence Programme).
A Programme Monitoring Committee consisting of regional stakeholders such as Government Offices, RDAs, Regional Assemblies, Local Authorities, Sub-regional Partnerships, Higher Education Institutions, Trade Unions, and the private and voluntary sectors will monitor and oversee programme implementation in each region.
For more information on ERDF funding generally, please visit www.communities.gov.uk/citiesandregions/european or http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/funds/feder/index_en.htm
About ERDF in the East Midlands
The East Midlands is eligible for €268.5m (approximately £236m at current exchange rates) between 2007 and 2013, which when combined with match funding, provides a programme value of approximately £472m – a significant investment in the economic development of the region.
The East Midlands qualifies as a competitiveness and employment region under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which aims to meet the EU Lisbon objective to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social inclusion.’
East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is responsible for the programme management and delivery of the region’s 2007-13 ERDF Competitiveness Programme. The responsibility for ERDF programme management was transferred from the Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM) to emda following a decision by the UK Government to seek greater alignment between ERDF and regional strategies and funding streams. The 2007-13 ERDF Programme is therefore set firmly within the framework of the Regional Economic Strategy.
A Programme Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Regional Director of Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM), guides the strategic direction of the programme and works closely with emda.
To find out more about ERDF, the region’s strategy for delivering the funds, how to apply for funding and how the programme is managed, please visit www.eastmidlandserdf.org.uk
East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England, set up in 1999 to bring a regional focus to economic development.
Ten years on, independent evaluation shows emda has:
• Had a significant impact on the region’s economy
• Generated economic benefits that substantially outweigh its overall costs
• Put back over £9 of economic output (or GVA) into the regional economy for every £1 it spends
• Produced more than £1 billion in economic benefits per year
• A wider impact on people, places and businesses in the East Midlands that cannot be captured by figures alone.
For more details visit www.emda.org.uk
About East Midlands Innovation
East Midlands Innovation is the Regional Science and Industry Council which was established in 2005 by emda.
East Midlands Innovation’s principal responsibility is to take the lead for emda in implementing the Innovation Strategy and Action Plan for the East Midlands with the aim to grow a long term, sustainable, innovation-led economy.
In order to deliver the Regional Innovation Strategy and coordinate action under its four themes, emda and East Midlands Innovation have created four business led innovation networks (iNets) which are focused on the identified regional industry and research strengths across four priority sectors. These have been identified as:
• Healthcare and Bioscience
• Food and Drink
• Sustainable Construction
The iNets are raising the level of innovation in their sectors, with the aim of stimulating the research and development of new products, services and processes.
For further information, visit www.eminnovation.org.uk