The main objective of Curtis Analytics is to help the food industry mitigate the acrylamide problem in food. Curtis Analytics is the fastest asparagine testing service company in the UK and holds contracts with five major bread and breakfast cereal producers, farmers and crisp producers. Curtis Analytics was established by Dr Tanya Curtis at the end of July 2017.
Formation of the company was encouraged by Rothamsted’s then head of Business Engagement and Commercialisation, Andrew Spencer. He believed that Curtis Analytics would be very successful, based on his previous experience with similar spin-off and start-up businesses.
The formation of acrylamide in food is recognised by the industry as a difficult problem to resolve. The recent introduction of regulations to control levels of acrylamide in our food has led to industry partners working with scientists in order to reduce our exposure to these chemicals. Curtis Analytics is a company with expertise in acrylamide formation. They aim to help food producers and private individuals reduce levels of acrylamide in their products and food, and also to comply with the regulations through testing services and acrylamide research.
Food safety advice from BBSRC-funded research has informed international laws on acrylamide. Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen which forms in foods made from potatoes, cereals and beans (including coffee) when they are cooked at temperatures over 120°C.
Professor Nigel Halford and Dr Tanya Curtis at Rothamsted Research, an Institute strategically funded by BBSRC, used a series of BBSRC grants to study acrylamide formation. The research involved industry collaborations including with Kellogg’s, Nestlé and Tesco, and informed the European Commission’s regulations for benchmark levels of acrylamide and practices for reducing acrylamide formation.
A BBSRC Follow-on Fund Pathfinder award supported the establishment of start-up company Curtis Analytics Ltd in 2017, enabling Curtis’ transition to company Director. The company now employs seven people and provides an asparagine testing service for food manufacturers to ensure their products meet food safety standards.
“I really believe that more scientists should go into business. I think that will speed up the development of better products and services. Without BBSRC I don’t think I would have achieved any of this. It’s been vital for the existence of Curtis Analytics.”