Sympathetic Stupid

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I liked this entry from the slightly magnificent Inhabitat yesterday. It's about biodegrabale junk food packaging, specifically, trays made from 'bioplastics' - plastics made from biological not petrochemical products. Their environmental advantage is that they dissolve with just the addition of plain water. Their theoretical disadvantage, of course, is that they dissolve after contact with moisture. So don't try to carry four full beers back to your seat on one, cause you'll be wearing them. But in practice this might not be so much of a problem; I imagine they take a little dissolving and won't fall apart after just a few drops of soft drink.

And the company, Plantic Technologies, is Australian, and indeed based in Laverton North. Most interesting is the fact that the genesis of the company was the Cooperative Research Centre for International Food Manufacture & Packaging Science, part of the low-profile CRC program. The CRC thing interests me; I know they exist, but what sort of success rate do they have? If this one's any indication, it's easy. This PDF (page 19) says the CRC was established in 1995 and got $44.2m over seven years, $17m direct from the government, at which time it metamorphosed into an innovative multinational company (offices in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK), filling a niche in the market.

(Incidentally, this is with help from TiNSHED Capital, an 'angel' investment firm which also interests me. But that's another thing.)

So this has inspired me to have a look at CRCs in a bit more detail. Are they just venture capital with similarly low success rates? Just basic research with similarly poor commercialization rates? Or something better than both? And how much cash goes into them?