Process development for a sustainable and unique cosmeceutical ingredient

Lead Participant: ACTIVATEC LTD


Consumers are greatly concerned about cosmetic pollution and the use of synthetic ingredients which can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. However, the use of unrefined natural ingredients does not always give the efficacies required. Alternatively, biotech active ingredients are a new market with strong potential, as these ingredients can have a high activity efficacy and are derived from clean and sustainable sources. Moreover, as COVID-19 tightens its grip on health systems and economies around the world,?the?global pharma and biotech sectors?have a vital?role to play.

Ectoine is a cyclic amino acid, whose function provides osmotic balance to a wide number of halotolerant bacteria. One of its inherent properties is as a highly effective stabilizer of enzymes, DNA-protein complexes and nucleic acids. In an attempt to harness these attributes, various industries have begun to market Ectoine as a novel active component in health care and cosmetics products. Ectoine has been demonstrated as being capable of protecting the skin from dryness, UV irradiation and positively influence lung inflammation associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This biotech ingredient is one of the most valuable products synthesized by microorganisms, retailing in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry.

Activatec, an R&D-based start-up in Nottingham, will collaborate in a 9-months project with the University of Nottingham to develop an innovative technology to produce Ectoine by utilising a microbial consortium. They will validate the technology with a multi-litre fermentation system, which will produce small batches of the end-product and generate data to allow the development of large-scale production. This innovation will provide a cost-effective manufacturing process of the valuable compound which can be formulated into skincare applications. Alongside this, the potential of the technology both technically and business-economically will be evaluated.

This project will be a driver towards the commercialisation of a biotech ingredient for the first time in the UK that will meet market requirements and reduce the carbon footprint of the cosmetic industry. Following the successful application of this Ectoine in the skincare industry further markets will be explored, i.e. pharma and healthcare. Furthermore, this project will boost Activatec as a business during this COVID-19 outbreak creating new business opportunities, sustainable jobs and growth in the local Nottinghamshire area.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

ACTIVATEC LTD £218,133 £ 174,506




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