UK start-up to open new water filter plant in Scotland

EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE, Scotland–Nic Holmes, managing director of Filter Clear, plans to set up a factory in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, to manufacture what will be the only water purification device that can naturally filter out the potentially lethal cryptosporidium bug, among numerous other parasites.

The firm, whose technology is based on a 20-year-old invention of Fred Spruce–the 87-year-old inventor of polythene and the chloride battery–has already been listed amongst the top “50 to watch” companies in 2005 by leading business publisher Real Business. Market potential, expectations of first year profitability plus the reputation of the serial inventor behind the Filter Clear water filtration system are the three things that won the new business a spot in the hot 50.

The new factory is scheduled to open in Kirkintilloch this summer, but already two significant deals have been struck – one with Inverhouse’s Pulteney whisky distillery in Wick, Caithness, and another with Aujan, the Saudi Arabian soft drinks manufacturer.

Nic Holmes comments: “There are basically two types of products we’ll manufacture. First, there are the bigger filters, which will be of use to the water treatment industry, such as Scottish Water and Bristol Water, and also the food and drink sector. Then there is the mobile filter units, which have enormous potential for the military and also for the third world and disaster zones.

“We’ve already had meetings with the United Nations and the Red Cross, and both are interested in taking the product into crisis areas, where the quality of water is often a matter of life and death.

“At this stage, I suspect that most of the manufacturing we do will involve these mobile purification units. The big difference between ours and those already on the market is that existing filters tend to clog easily and are vastly more expensive.”

Spruce’s invention sat on the shelf for more than 20 years, primarily because water had previously been a fairly cheap commodity. However, Scottish Water last year came under pressure from the industry regulator to keep future price increases below inflation after it submitted a draft business plan to the Scottish Executive for the 2006-10 period, allowing for an average rise of 1.25-per cent a year above inflation, or 5-per cent in total.

Water companies south of the border have warned their increases over 2005-10 could add up to an almost 19-per cent rise for the period.

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