TWELVE skilled jobs have been saved in St Andrews by a technology firm backed by the town’s university.

Drochaid Research Services has taken on employees of Sasol UK following the closure of the St Andrews laboratory that was funded by the South African oil and gas firm.

The University of St Andrews provided a £700,000 financial package for Drochaid and the promise of access to research equipment.

It said Drochaid will carry out contract research and development in the areas of catalysis, materials science and chemical technology.

The company’s managing director, Professor Robert Tooze, said: “The need for the efficient utilisation of both materials and energy in the products that we all rely on is increasingly well understood. Catalysis is a key enabling technology in this process.”

He added: “We are already getting significant industrial interest and further building our links with academia, both nationally and internationally.”

The company is expected to benefit from an ongoing partnership with the University of St Andrews where it is based.

Sasol’s decision to provide £5 million support to open a laboratory at St Andrew in 2002 represented a notable vote of confidence in the university.

The company wanted to tap into the expertise held in the university to develop ways of making the fuel production process more efficient and environmentally friendly.

It considered eight other locations.

The laboratory was initially expected to employ 25 people, mostly at PhD level.