Spotlight on Geoff Knott, managing director and co-founder of New Foods Ltd
Geoff founded New Foods Ltd, a company creating and selling cricket protein based products during his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Geoff first learned about IP in workshops on the ‘Researcher to Innovator’ programme provided by SETsquared.
My innovation story
I founded New Foods Ltd, a company creating and selling cricket protein-based products during my PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I first came up with the ideas behind HOP with a sports friend and shortly after decided to pitch for the University’s Business Entrepreneurship Student Support Scheme (BESSS) funding. We failed twice but were further motivated to develop the product and business strategy to secure the funding in our next attempt. We developed our first product – a cricket protein bar, in my student kitchen and tested the market obtaining customer validation with sports people at Surrey Sports Park and the Head of the Nutrition Department at Surrey. We invested time in further developing the business model and in May of 2018 pitched for BESSS funding again and were successful in obtaining a £5,000 seed funding award. We went on to incorporate the company as New Foods Ltd with ambitions to revolutionise all food and nutrition, firstly through sports nutrition with ‘HOP’.
The importance of trademarking
The BESSS funding kickstarted setup of all the core business assets including: the company website, email, social media, product designs and creating a logo. Having first learned about IP in Workshops on the ‘Researcher to Innovator’ programme provided by SETsquared and learning more through RDP workshops, I knew the importance of trademarks in building a brand and the funding allowed me to register ‘HOP’ and ‘Superbug’ (which I hope to use for the children’s healthy confectionary market) and the slogan ‘Fuel Your Future’.
I then spent the next 9-12 months outsourcing manufacturing while I was still at pre-launch stage. My focus was on getting a minimum viable product launched to get HOP out into the world and to test the market. This allowed me to gain valuable customer feedback and gage people’s reactions to the product. To protect my recipes in the UK, I negotiated and signed a UK-exclusivity manufacturing agreement with the manufacturer of my products. This means that if there were potential competitors in the UK who also approached the supplier, those UK competitors would have to work through HOP – almost like a broker.
If you're creating a new product, the Technology Transfer Office and Student Enterprise are great communities to be a part of, offering loads of useful business support and advice. I’d suggest you start discussing your ideas with them as soon as possible because they could save you a bunch of time going-it alone, and help you avoid common mistakes.