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All female team of chemists stick to strategy for greener growth

The Leicester-based team has created an A2 fire-rated greener adhesive and been supported by the Growth Hub and was featured on LeicestershireLive this week.

An all-female team of chemists has developed a safer and greener material that can be used by the construction industry.

Structural Adhesives is set to become the first UK company to produce a certified adhesive product that can be used when cladding high rise residential buildings.

The A2 fire-rated greener adhesive fills a significant gap in the market as many companies that had previously supplied cladding systems for use on external walls above 18 metres have been unable to do so as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.

Structural Adhesives, which is an SME, has been manufacturing and delivering bonding solutions for more than 30 years. The business develops and sells a wide range of technical adhesives to various sectors internationally including aerospace, construction and engineering.

The company has been working with the Business Gateway Growth Hub to achieve the goal of becoming cleaner and greener.

When former art and design teacher, Angela Orton took over the business from her father Mani Suri, who co-founded the company, she wanted to change its direction. She started looking at greener adhesives that were not so damaging to the environment and had a low carbon footprint.

The business began to develop new products and from this came their new A2 adhesive – an innovative construction product that demonstrates durability, non-combustibility, high bond strength and contains significantly less raw materials from non-sustainable resources compared with general construction adhesives.

Before COVID-19 became a global issue, raw materials were sourced internationally. When the first lockdown happened in March 2020 Angela and her team made plans to grow the business in another way.

“I found some fantastic opportunities through the Business Gateway Growth Hub. I realised this was a platform we could bounce off, and we were excited about where it could take us,” she said.

“Our business adviser, Altaf Ahmed was amazingly helpful. He talked to me about what my expectations of a green agenda were and got the ball rolling with a whole host of other ideas. He also put us in touch with the green chemistry department at the University of Leicester.

“The Growth Hub gave us a springboard into an aerospace programme with Nottingham University, a support programme for marketing with Warwick University as well as local support from the Spring and Prosper programme with Loughborough University.”

“We’ve formed some sound relationships with these universities drawing on knowledge transfer as well as sharing good practice so that we can grow, understand new markets and future technologies. We’ve made connections which have taken us onto other routes – it’s been like a roadmap of support and it can all be traced back to that first talk with Altaf.”

Structural Adhesives has already received recognition for its work after winning the Innovation in Construction Award last year at the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards and been shortlisted for both the Enterprising Women Awards for their Contribution to STEM and the 2021 Midlands Business Awards.

Talking about the accolades Angela said: “It’s a reflection on how well my team has worked, and how well they have carried on through Covid and carried on innovating. To see your team, so proud when we won the innovation award last year, it was really great.”

She added: “Lots of businesses who we thought were really strong in the sector have sadly not survived COVID-19. It’s been heartbreaking to know that some good businesses have been so badly affected over the last year. We recognised the need to do something different which is why we went through the Growth Hub. We had to diversify in order to keep the business on track.”

If you are looking to grow your business call the Growth Hub on 0116 366 8487 or email growthhub@bizgateway.org.uk 

(Pictured: Angela Orton at the LeicestershireLive Awards exhibition).