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UK First As Government Allocates £500,000 Funding For Innovate Cannabis Research 

THE UK Government through its innovation agency is set to provide almost £500,000 of funding to an English company to develop proprietary cannabidiol synthesis technology.

The cash from Innovate UK has been earmarked for County Durham company Canna Group and will be used to develop bespoke technology to manufacture CBD-HQ.

Americo Folcarelli, CMO of Canna Group, said he believed it was the first such award to have been set aside for a UK cannabis company.

He said: “Naturally, we are very pleased to be selected for this award from Innovate UK which will help speed-up the development of our proprietary technology for the synthesis of CBD-HQ.

Established in 2017

“The existing synthesis process takes three months and only converts 50% of the CBD into CBD-HQ, our small scale research has currently shown we can achieve 90% conversion in 12 hours. 

“The funding will help us scale-up this primary research and demonstrate its practical and economic viability at scale, before a commercial roll-out.”

Canna Group, formerly Dodd Heres, was established in Consett, County Durham, in 2017 and currently produces a range of ‘standard’ CBD-based products including oils, jellies and topicals. 

Americo Folcarelli

It has been allocated £472,566 from Innovate UK’s ‘Innovate UK Smart Grants’ which was launched in January this year with its programme submission entitled ‘Accelerated Oxidation Process to Achieve CBD-HQ’.

Over £150,000 of the grant received is earmarked for equipment. The research programme is expected to take 15 months and if successful the company says it could create up to 20 jobs in the former steelmaking town. 

The company says its research and scale-up will be undertaken at its facility in Consett in partnership with leading cannabis researchers from Athens and Barcelona University led by cannabis physician Dr Vangelis Mitsis

As well as this research the Canna Group is working with Dr Mitsis to create new technologies to produce cannabinoids and formulations for a variety of ailments and diseases.

CBD-HQ, which is a CBD extract discovered by Israeli scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulam, is said to be stronger and more effective than primary CBD and can be more easily absorbed into the human body.

However, the existing technology means it takes three weeks to convert less than 50% of the raw CBD into CBD-HQ making it prohibitively expensive.

Canna Group COO Adam Mackenzie said: “The existing technology means that CBD HQ can cost £200 per gram which renders it commercially unviable for the consumer market. 

“Our process will allow this new ingredient to be produced at an estimated price of £40 per gram, an 80% reduction for the end user.”

Adam Mackenzie

Canna Group says its facility will be fully EU-GMP compliant and adhere to the required pharmaceutical specifications.

A spokesperson from Innovate UK confirmed the cash had been set aside for the Consett company and that it was in the process of confirming some additional details before its final award.

While this is believed to be the first grant award of its kind the UK Government did take a six-figure stake in CBD brand OTO in 2021.

What is CBD-HQ?

CBD-HQ is the abbreviation of Cannabidiol-Hydroxy Quinone and is basically the oxidised version of CBD, which occurs when cannabis or hemp is left open to elements like sun and air.

This process can take up to 20 years to occur naturally and then only a small percentage of CBD will turn into CBD-HQ.

Because of its scarcity little research has been done on the benefits of CBD-HQ but it has been shown to have both anti-cancer and pain killing properties and is said to be much more effective than chemotherapy in fighting certain cancers as well as regulating type two diabetes without dietary changes.

The extract was discovered by Israeli scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulam and is more effective than primary CBD, because of the Quinone element, which means it can be more easily absorbed into the human body.

Quinones occur in nature and are produced when polyphenols oxidize in plants. It is similar to the oxidation of the polyphenols when an apple is cut. Through contact with oxygen, the polyphenols in the apple are enzymatically oxidized to quinones, which give the characteristic brown colour that occurs when the apple is left exposed to air.

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