School of Chemistry MSc Student Scoops Two Awards in a Week

Chemistry student shows entrepreneurial spirit

Update: Congratulations to Maria, who has now been announced as one of the winners of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise Fresh Ideas award!

Original story (10th December 2020): It has been a busy week for MSc Materials Chemistry student, María Isabel Cabrera Amorin, as she has won two further awards to add to her rapidly growing list of accolades.

In addition to winning the Edinburgh Innovation Students Business Ideas Competition, she has also won the Scottish Institute for Enterprise Fresh Ideas award for NOV and will progress to the next stage of the competition. This comes on top of winning a highly competitive Chevening Scholarship to study at the University of Edinburgh.

María Isabel founded CrustaTec in 2018 in her home country Guatemala and has been making waves ever since. CrustaTec is part of Indequi, an R&D and consulting firm that María Isabel founded. 

María Isabel

CrustaTec produces the biopolymer Chitosan from the shrimp shells waste of the seafood processing industry and applying it to wastewater treatment. Its applications can include filtering wastewater laced with dye chemicals in the textile industry in developing regions and to reduce pollution in rivers.


The highly prestigious American Chemical Society featured CrustaTec and María Isabel ‘On our Radar’ as one of the 5 young chemistry-based firms of 2020 to watch. 

The MIT Technology Review has also listed María Isabel in their ‘Innovators Under 35 MIT Technology Review’ (early 2020).

Based on previous research into chitosan as an adsorbent for textile dyes, María Isabel designed a chitosan-based recirculation filter for textile wastewater treatment. The prototype was developed with funding received by the organization Young Water Solutions in collaboration with Aquafin, a Belgian wastewater treatment company, as part of the Young Water Fellowship program 2018.

The pilot project was conducted in 2019, working together with rural textile artisans with the purpose of developing the idea with the appropriate technology. María Isabel said;

‘We have built a lab-scale manufacturing facility, and now we are looking for funding to scale up the production.’ 

‘Our next steps are a research project on its use for domestic wastewater treatment and to consolidate partnerships with chitosan production companies in India, which I had the opportunity to visit last year.’

Both Awards (BIC and Fresh Ideas), are cash funding to invest in validating, launching and growing the business. She is also receiving support from the Business & Innovation Advisors at Edinburgh Innovations Students. 

We are delighted that María Isabel choose to study MSc Materials Chemistry with us at the School of Chemistry. She brings a wealth of experience and skills and we look forward to helping her develop those even further and supporting her as she continues to innovate and we look forward to seeing what she does next!