Celtic Renewables have developed a highly innovative process to produce sustainable butanol from the by-products of one of Scotland's largest industries, whisky distillation.

Despite having developed truly ground-breaking technology, the road to delivering a commercially viable product looked complex.

Following development of the original technology led by internationally acclaimed founder, Professor Martin Tangney, at the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, Scottish Enterprise became involved with the project to assist the development of a fully commercialised process.

Edinburgh Napier University benefitted from £267k from Scottish Enterprise as part of the Proof of Concept Programme.

This funding delivered positive proof of the viability of producing butanol from the by-products of the whisky industry through research with some of the world's best known whisky producers, including Diageo, Gordon and Macphail and Tullibardine.

Not only does this innovative process create end products of significantly higher value than its component ingredients, it resolves waste disposal issues within the industry.

Following the completion of the Proof of Concept Programme, Saltire Fellow Mark Simmers joined the project to complete a 12 week business plan re-shaping programme. This programme delivered a business plan supporting spin-out approval from the university and formed the basis of preparations for a SMART award.

Additionally, Celtic Renewables received start up funding and a £70k SMART feasibility award that assisted with establishing the company, employing key personnel (including Mark Simmers as chief executive officer) and the cost of technology scale-up trials.

The early-stage funding has allowed the company to accelerate scale-up trials of the process technology, and to build a strong reputation for Celtic Renewables' innovation.

In 2012, the company won a Shell Springboard Award for Innovation in Low Carbon Technology and won the Best Innovation category at the Scottish Green Energy Awards, while founder Martin Tangney was named "International Innovator of the Year" by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

With continuing support from Scottish Enterprise, the company expects to have its first commercial demonstration plant commissioned in 2015.

Mark Simmers says of the support provided by Scottish Enterprise: "We have benefited from tremendous support from the team. The Scottish Enterprise network is very strong and well connected. This led to an introduction to our investor. Through their contacts, they are able to open doors that would not be available to us otherwise."

In addition to funding support, Celtic Renewables has benefited from advice on developing the company's intellectual property, business planning and R&D tax credits.

Scottish Development International has also worked with the company, funding an external consultant to run an International Strategy Workshop. This confirmed to Celtic Renewables that their strategy was on-track and the team found it helpful to take a step back from their day-to-day work to consider their international development approach.

Celtic Renewables' plan for commercialisation is now a reality. With opportunity spotted at an early stage, appropriate and tailored support has eased the company through proof of concept, spin-out and commercialisation, with plans to secure next stage growth investment.