Frontier supports technology to eradicate detectable TCA from natural cork stoppers


Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, notes the announcement from the world’s leading producer of cork products, Corticeira Amorim (“Amorim”), that it has launched a breakthrough technology to remove the major cause of cork taint in wine from natural corks. The move is a result of collaboration with the Group’s partner university, NOVA University of Lisbon – NOVA School of Science and Technology (“FCT NOVA”).

Frontier IP supported the Centro de Fisica e Investigação Tecnológica (“CEFITEC”) research unit of FCT NOVA in engaging with Amorim to commercialise the new technology. The Group played an important role in negotiating the terms of the commercial agreement, including the licensing terms.

FCT NOVA’s technology, branded “Naturity” by Amorim, removes the leading cause of the unpleasant tastes and odours found in corked taint, a chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (“TCA”) as well as other volatile compounds from natural corks. Naturity is based on a process that combines temperature, water and pressure without affecting the performance and  integrity of the cork.

Amorim has separately developed a second technology able to reduce TCA from micro-agglomerated stoppers. These are made from tiny granules of cork bound together with specialist food-binding agents. Natural corks are made from a single piece of cork.

The Naturity technology was invented by Professor Orlando Teodoro, an expert on vacuum processes, and Professor of Engineering Physics at FCT NOVA.

Frontier IP and FCT NOVA  announced their partnership to maximise the value of the university’s research in September 2016.  Under the terms of the agreement, Frontier IP receives an equity stake in companies created by FCT NOVA, as well as a share of the licensing revenue generated. Since the agreement was signed, three spin out companies have been created in other fields.

It is encouraging to see this technology coming to market with the world’s leading producer of cork products. More generally, we are pleased with the strong progress being made with FCT NOVA and look forward to reporting further developments from our partnership, both in terms of portfolio companies and future industrial collaborations.

Frontier IP Chief Executive Officer Neil Crabb

The technology is a notable example of Engineering Physics which aims to transfer standard technologies in research labs to the industry, solving real problems or improving industry competitiveness and innovation. The outside view we brought to the problem was the key to its solution.

Professor Orlando Teodoro, FCT NOVA