eScent: The Future of Fragrance

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Arts London
Department Name: Central Saint Martin's College


This is a Follow-on Fund (FOF) project to the previously funded AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship (KTF), Smell the Colour of the Rainbow that explored opportunities resulting from the PI's patented work on the eScent concept in the 'wellbeing' arena.

eScent is a patented concept suitable for an item of jewellery or technology embedded clothing with the ability to deliver fragrance on demand and in the right quantities. It contains solvent-free scent and a dispenser activated electronically to deliver specified aliquots of fragrance depending on a sensor or timer if the application is for fashion, wellbeing, healthcare, or environmental in nature (such as insect repellent).

The project aims to determine the product feasibility of eScent to new audiences and users in the fine fragrance industry. It will address the latest legislation in the fragrance industry and demonstrate the commercial viability of a cartridge microchip that stores up to six fragrances that can be worn in jewellery or clothing.

The PI will position eScent in the fragrance industry and evaluate the impact it could have on the fashion industry as it shows signs of merging with wearable technology markets. The PI will verify the competitiveness of the eScent concept as a 'disruptive technology' and determine the commercial potential of a cartridge microchip that can be worn in jewellery and 'smart clothing' as a solution to store a palette of fragrance ingredients with 'high odour value', which can be used at 'low dosage' levels to give a powerful fragrance contribution. In addition the PI will seek expertise and the latest guidelines and knowledge on fragrance legislation/regulations to promote the safe and positive use of fragrances amongst consumers and the wider population.

The non-academic partners include the British Society of Perfumers and PANDORA fine fragrance experts who will ensure knowledge transfer through various activities. The team includes a commercialization and technology transfer expert, fashion designers from France and the UK, a film animator and student involvement. A University startup will be the vehicle to commercialise the research and they own patents that protect the eScent concept in UK, China and pending in the USA.

The specific targets to be achieved by the end of the award will include a commercial evaluation report supported by an animation film with interviews from perfumers and experts in the fragrance and fashion industries.

The beneficiaries will include the international fragrance industry, the fashion industry, the general public with an interest in the changing face of modern day perfumery and the sense of smell.

The project will be disseminated with the help of the network of the British Society of Perfumery and at international fragrance forums and academic symposia. A website will be produced to disseminate a short animation film that introduces eScent as the new 'perfume bottle', along with design work and professional interviews for the market studies.

Planned Impact

The following organisations who might benefit from this research include International organisations such as the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) in Belgium who focus on the advocacy side for the industry, and the Research Institute of Fragrance Materials (RIFM) in the USA, who focus more on the research and science for the safe use of the individual materials. The PI's research has already been endorsed by RFIM for 'sending out a very positive message for the fragrance industry' (Marie Gartshore, Communications Manager 2010), the Fragrance Foundation USA (as a Fifi award nominee 2006) and the Scent Marketing Institute in the USA.

In addition, the research should benefit the international perfume houses; Givaudan, Firmenich, International Flavours & Fragrances, COTY, P&G Prestige, Chanel Parfums, Takasago, Symrise, Unilever and the much smaller British perfume houses such as Phoneix Fragrances and Floris. It should also benefit individual niche perfumers such as Le Labo Fragrances (USA), John Bailey (UK), perfumery blog 'Sniffapalooza' (USA), Natural Perfumers Guild and 'Scratch n' Sniff' public events (London), and the commercial fashion sector including brands who have already launched non technological jewellery pieces containing their own perfume range (in solid form), including Thierry Mugler ("Angel") and Stella McCartney ("Stella").

Furthermore, the research could benefit politicians including Julian Huppert, a biotechnology scientist, Member of Parliament for Cambridge and active supporter of high-tech start-ups, entrepreneurs and 'wellbeing' issues, in addition to the media who can relay the social and economic benefits of this research, including the technology and 'gadget' press (WIRED), beauty/fashion press covering latest trends in perfumery and legislation (Vogue/Harpers Bazaar), fragrance journalists and daily press covering safety issues of perfumery.

This research has the potential to contribute to the nation's health because it promotes the safe use of fragrances and sends out a clear message to consumers. It achieves this by introducing a new delivery system that addresses many issues faced in modern day perfumery, high-lighting the relevance of the industry and wider benefits of smell to the public. This impact will be achieved when the PI presents the research at the World Perfumery Congress in France in June 2014 and IFRA's fragrance forum at the Royal Society in October 2014

The research also fosters economic competitiveness of the UK because it places British perfumery innovation and entrepreneurship on a global platform. It enhances creative and cultural outputs with the global luxury/lifestyle consumer goods sectors (Richemont, LVMH) and encourages licensing agreements so that the proceeds from the successful development benefits the UK economy through a company start-up (a collaborator in this project) and growth, job creation and IPR income. License deals to fund follow-on growth prospect and a creative eScent house in other innovative sensory products covered by the patents is already being planned with international designers and perfumers. More recently the patented research is of interest to a 'wearable electronics' clothing market looking for added functionality as a means to sell perfume in luxury garments

The research prevents the need to spray alcoholic solutions of fragrance ingredients onto skin. This reduces the risk of potential reactions (itchy, burning, scaly, redness), resulting from exposure to skin irritants (irritant contact dermatitis) and chemical irritants such as solvents in standard 'eau de toilette' perfumes (97% ethanol). It delivers significant economic impact to NHS dermatology (reducing cost of drug treatments, lotions) and social impact to the public (self-consciousness) and could revolutionise the way in which the public apply and use fragrance, experience scent and enjoy the positive effects of scent in enhancing our personal wellbeing


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