Cosmetic Valley organized the 6th edition of 'The Cosmetic Victories' in 2021. This worldwide competition rewards and promotes innovative projects related to the perfume and cosmetics industries.
Six finalists were chosen in February 2021 and winners were announced in March. In the following interview, we profile the Industry Prize winner, Smart Delivery Capsules, which are green, sustainably produced carriers that can deliver active compounds to the stratum corneum. Describing this innovation is Marcin Łukaszewicz (shown below, left).
What is your innovation? How is it used?
Our invention is based on a zero-waste, solid-state biorefinery using probiotic bacteria to obtain green chemicals, which are environmentally and human friendly. Our substances such as biosurfactants and biopolymers can form surprisingly effective smart delivery systems.
These carriers allow the delivery of active compounds to the appropriate location in skin. Their optimized size makes them easier to pass through a relatively impermeable barrier in the outer skin layer, the stratum corneum. Additionally, the building blocks of our Smart Delivery Capsules may serve as natural nutrients for skin cells.
What is novel about this technology? How might it shape the cosmetics and personal care market?
Our holistic concept of biorefineries is based on fermentation using probiotic bacteria to obtain green chemicals. The technology solves the bottleneck of eco-friendly and vegan components for cosmetics. The world is at the beginning of the road to replacing petroleum-based synthetic raw materials. Green chemistry raw materials are scarce and expensive, therefore the world strives to minimize the use of chemicals.
Our smart delivery capsules can transport active substances. Encapsulation and topical-controlled, prolonged-release help to improve their attributes and performance. The solution may also improve the smell, color, durability, safety, cost, stability and preservation of the products.
Our solutions open up possibilities for cosmetic formulations that have not been possible so far. Encapsulation and smart delivery allow the use of lower concentrations of active substances and cost reduction without losing effectiveness. Additionally, the building blocks of our smart delivery capsules may serve as natural nutrients for the skin cells.
Where did your idea come from? (A market need? A new technology?)
The idea came from many paths. On the one hand, it is a result of caring for the environment due to a love for spending time outdoors.
It also answered the questions of how to take care of the environment, since the production of natural substances is usually more expensive than chemical synthesis. And it solved the problem of relatively low concentrations of natural substances being produced in the post-reaction mixture, which generates high purification costs and a large amount of waste.
The solution was to design a process where after fractionation there is no waste (all fractions are used). To achieve this, the approach is based on a process in which everything that is produced is edible. That is why we use food-derived by-products, food grade solvents and probiotic microorganisms. All the remaining biomass after fractionation is used as multifunctional animal feed.
The goal is to increase efficiency while decreasing the amount of components. We avoid waste that results, for example, from washing out active cosmetic compounds from the skin surface, which in turn contaminate the environment.
Additional questions it addressed were how to improve the parameters of the product with a reduced amount of active substance. Also, how to pass through a relatively impermeable barrier in the outer skin layer, the stratum corneum.
Regarding the latter, the inspiration was microneedles, which perforate the outer layer of skin, creating physical transport channels to intensify the action of the active ingredient. However, we decided to use the existing natural channels in the stratum corneum layer and adjust the carriers to their size instead of physical delivery by micro-hole formation with needles.
Finally, it solved problems with the capsule package after the release of the active compound. The finalized solution is the same as in the biorefinery but on a cellular scale—allowing the capsule package to form food ingredients for skin cells.
What product development challenges did you face in creating this innovation? What skills or technologies supported your success?
Nature offers an infinite number of innovations. There are a lot of great discoveries in basic science but many of them stay in laboratories. The knowledge transfer from academia to industry is exciting but tough. For instance, the huge diversity of microflora in nature is still a great cognitive challenge. We still do not know much about the natural human microflora. Therefore, the selection of probiotic microorganisms to produce the expected substances is quite difficult.
Another issue was optimizing for the appropriate efficacy. Scale-up is also always a challenge and we had to build bioreactors for the developed processes. Currently, in order to further implement the project results on the market, we are facing the transition from a research and development company into an entity focused more on the stages of broad commercialization.
We believe that behind our success is teamwork. The key to success is also people with experience in both basic research and industry. The interdisciplinary partnership of industry with academia may give mutual benefits and allow us to overcome the possible difficulties in the commercialization of innovation.
What outcome do you anticipate from the competition? From your work?
We hope that The Cosmetic Victories 2021 first prize will help us with the establishment of fruitful contacts and greater visibility, helpful during participation in fairs such as Cosmetic 360 or NYSCC Suppliers' Day 2021.
Our invention based on solid-state fermentation with probiotic bacteria enables us to provide green components for cosmetics, and will create opportunities and courses of action for cosmetic manufacturers. Closer collaboration with more cosmetic companies would enable us to identify specific needs that we could help to fulfill using our technology.
The smart delivery system’s efficiency, as stated, also enables us to use less active ingredients, thus saving money and becoming more environmentally friendly. We already have delivery systems for many compounds, which we hope will find applications in end users’ products and provide consumers with personalized advice.
We wish to share our invention for the benefit of consumers and the environment. Most people talk about win-win but we prefer win-win-win: we win, our partners win and the environment wins.
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The following video exemplifies how the Smart Delivery Capsules work.