A Scottish company that has developed the world’s first entirely plant-based construction insulation is raising investment to open its first manufacturing plant.

IndiNature, based in Edinburgh, needs £3.8 million to build the technology that will produce the material made from UK-grown hemp and flax.

Scott Simpson, managing director, has been developing the innovative material for three years and the company aims to be operational by the end of next year.

Mr Simpson believes the potential impact of the insulation, which is bonded using a natural binder he invented, is “absolutely gigantic”.

He said: “The construction sector takes about half of global natural resources at the moment and we solve that problem by using renewable resources- annual crops.”

The industry also accounts for 40 per cent of global carbon emissions through the manufacture, transport and construction of building materials as well as operational emissions. 

And at least 50 per cent of Scotland’s overall waste is produced by the sector, according to Zero Waste Scotland.

Mr Simpson said: “We solve all those problems with our product. We save carbon because we make a really high quality energy efficient system but the biggest impact is that we knock about a quarter of the construction carbon footprint off the average UK house because we store more carbon in the products than the amount that was needed to make them.”

IndiNature’s production is estimated to use around an eighth less energy than standard glass and rock wool insulation, and their use of naturally carbon storing crops that pull carbon dioxide from the air makes their material almost carbon neutral.

The industrial hemp and flax crops are naturally resilient too, taking unexpected weather variations such as flooding in their stride.

Currently the supply chain is based in the north of England but Scottish farmers who want to revive the traditional crops previously used to supply the navy with anchor ropes and rigging are in talks with the company.

It was while renovating his own home with eco materials that Mr Simpson discovered that not all sustainable building products are created equally. 
After importing apparently eco insulation, he noticed that it was bound with petro-plastics, negating the company’s environmental credentials.

He said: “I thought I was doing the eco thing but when I read the text-sheet it said it used petro-chemicals and it was eye wateringly expensive so I thought, why don’t we do this here in Scotland?”

With a background in  community development, Mr Simpson worked in housing and saw people living in “terrible” conditions.

He said: “Houses were damp, [people] couldn’t afford to heat them, there was black mould and fuel poverty.”

It was during a masters in Sustainable Architecture that Mr Simpson started developing the materials he now uses to produce the insulation he thinks will revolutionise the construction industry. 

He said: “I thought, if you can solve the built environment problem, you can solve a lot of problems.

“If you know to design the built environment in a holistic way with sustainable materials that will have a huge impact on people’s health and reduce the impacts on the environment.”

A site had been secured in Hawick to build their first factory, close to their farm supply chain. As well as working with Scottish farmers in the future, IndiNature hope to boost employment in the area.

The insulation can be retro-fitted into homes and businesses, allowing for current social housing developments to benefit from the technology. Mr Simpson is in talks with local authorities, contractors and big firms who “know they need to move into the sector.”

The company has plans for expansion with their global replication model that will build factories overseas.

Mr Simpson said: “I used to be involved with building nice little bespoke homes for wealthy people which is great but there was nothing being done on an industrial scale. 

“Globally we aim to be a £100 million plus business but with one factory we’re looking at a £20m turnover."