Cellugy x Innovayt // Eurostars
Chemical sun care formulations are not only damaging to human health but also harmful to the environment. More precisely, such formulations can cause skin allergies; hormonal disturbances; male infertility; and even carcinogenic events (i.e., the formation of cancer), while at the same time affecting the marine life. It has been estimated that every year more than 14 000 tons of sun care wash off people’s skin and enter reef areas, increasing coral mortality. Hence, there is a pressing need to replace the petrochemicals found in sun care products with biobased ingredients. However, most biobased compounds are expensive to produce and pose concerns due to their nanoparticle characteristics.
Cellugy was founded in 2018 to respond to the urgency in developing biomaterials for sustainable replacement of fossil-based compounds. Inspired by nature’s own products, processes, and biological organisms, this Danish SME developed an innovative platform technology to produce a biocellulose hydrogel that has unique stabilising and thickening properties with multiple potential applications. Interestingly, due to its high crystallinity and based on the fact that bacteria create biocellulose to protect themselves from the sun, this hydrogel has huge potential for safe UV filtering.
Granted with just above €460k from the Eurostars programme in early 2022, the consortium led by Cellugy will be able to explore the capabilities of this ground-breaking hydrogel to be the world’s first low-cost, fully biobased, and biodegradable ingredient with UV blocking properties. In turn, improving the stability of sun care products, as well as the health and environmental impacts.
Therefore with the Eurostars support and by benefiting from the complementary competences of the international consortium, it will be possible to scale-up the gel bioproduction in a cost-effective manner. In this way, overcoming the most significant challenges that have been hampering further advances in the sector to date.
Besides the above societal and environmental positive effects, this project represents a great opportunity for Cellugy to accelerate the next steps and enable a timely introduction of this product in the market. The impact of this grant can indeed have long-lasting repercussions in the company’s future, helping secure a forefront positioning in the market and even provide leverage for a highly profitable expansion into the pharmaceutical industry.
The Eurostars programme is organised by Eureka to support research intensive SMEs in implementing commercially driven R&D projects in international consortia. Leveraging from many years of experience with this programme, Innovayt assisted Cellugy and the consortium in the preparation of this successful Eurostars proposal. Innovayt ensured that all eligibility criteria were met for the involved partners, kept critical contact with national contact points from each country, and helped manage the consortium.