An ancient drink has been given a modern twist by the first manufacturing company to set up on the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus.
Shire Meadery was established by Benjamin Guscott and Nelson Almeida in early 2018 to produce a contemporary version of mead, an alcoholic drink made with fermented honey.
The idea for the new business became a reality after Benjamin and Nelson met at a student entrepreneur conference in February.
After exploring several options for a base for their meadery, they decided that the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus buildings on Aberystwyth University’s Gogerddan campus near Penrhyncoch would be ideal.
Benjamin Guscott, who has a PhD in Biosciences from Aston University, said: “I discovered mead when I was doing my doctorate, but only started making it myself much later. I approached mead-making from a scientific angle, experimenting with the most important components to make something with a much wider appeal than what is currently available. After a lot of testing, I created a formula for a contemporary mead which is less sweet and has a lower alcohol strength than traditional meads.
“We considered several locations for the business including Birmingham, Bristol and Bath. We were looking for somewhere that would not only provide professional support for the scientific aspect of the business but would also offer a beautiful, welcoming and affordable option. The Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus at Gogerddan ticked all the boxes.”
Shire Meadery produced its first bottles of mead in July 2018 and full commercial production is now underway.
Nelson Almeida, who came to Aberystwyth University to study Computer Science, said: “Mead is arguably the oldest alcoholic drink in the United Kingdom and it’s becoming increasingly popular with young people. We have had a lot of support from the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus’s incredibly useful BioAccelerate programme and the University’s AberPreneurs enterprise scheme. The other great aspect about being on a university campus is having so many different innovators around you. There are researchers here from all over the world and it’s a very creative, stimulating environment.”
Dr Rhian Hayward MBE, Chief Executive of Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus, said: “We are delighted that Shire Meadery Ltd has become one of our early start-up companies, taking up tenancy in our fully-furnished office spaces adjacent to the University’s biggest research facility. They join other tenants here in having access toworld-leading expertise in the agri-tech and biosciences sectors as well as ample networking opportunities with likeminded innovators. Construction of the main facilities for the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus is well underway and we look forward to expanding our community further in the coming months and years.”
Due for final completion in 2020, the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus will be a world-class facility which will attract both private and competitive research funding, enabling companies and researchers to undertake collaborative research projects to boost the bio-economy.
The Campus underlines Aberystwyth University’s commitment to greater interdisciplinary research and innovation in a future that is increasingly focussed on cross sector research and development for new products and services.
The £40.5m Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus development is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government; by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation; and by Aberystwyth University.
Photo: Benjamin Guscott (left) one of the founders of Shire Meadery with Dr Rhian Hayward, Chief Executive of Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus.
Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
Wales European Funding Office – WEFO