Omega-3 player Croda acquires Canadian firm specializing in marine microbes

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Russell Kerr, PhD, founded Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc. in 2007.
Russell Kerr, PhD, founded Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc. in 2007.
UK-based chemical giant Croda has announced the acquisition of a Canadian microbial technology company on Prince Edward Island.

Croda will acquire Nautilus Biosciences Canada, Inc., which is headquartered in Charlottetown, as part of the island’s PEI Bioalliance, a public/private business accelerator partnership. Among dietary supplement suppliers, the cluster also includes OmniActive Health Technologies.

Nautilus researches microbes of marine origin for applications in human and animal health and wellness. The microbes are isolated from invertebrates, such as coral and sponges, algae and sediment from locations as diverse as tropical coral reefs or the Canadian Arctic.

Croda is a diversified specialty chemical producer based in Snaith, in East Yorkshire, UK. The company has a vast array of offerings in many markets. In dietary supplements, it supplies omega-3s concentrate oils branded as Incromega and OmeRx. Croda reported $1.71 billion (£1.24 billion) in sales in its most recent complete fiscal year. This represented a 15% increase in sales over the previous year. The company says it puts a high premium on new, patent protected products, with the Nautilus acquisition presumably adding to this portfolio.

According to the company’s 2016 year end release, as compared to the year previously, sales of what it calls New & Protected Products (NPP) rose from 20% to 27.4% of total sales.

Novel bioactives

nautilus diver

Nautilus was founded in 2007 by Russell Kerr PhD. Kerr did doctoral work at the University of Calgary and post doctoral work at Stanford in marine biology. For the past 15 years he has been a professor at the University of Prince Edward Island. Nautilus focuses on using marine microbial biodiversity to discover novel actives and materials. Through this acquisition and the associated patents, Croda will utilize this innovative science for applications across all its market sectors.

Croda said it has been collaborating with Nautilus for the past six years developing specific applications for skin care and hair care, as well as crop care. Croda said it intends to establish Nautilus as a Croda Centre of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology at Nautilus’ existing base at the University of Prince Edward Island.

This location is ideal for biotechnology research and has already attracted and facilitated partnerships with many other biotechnology-based companies. Nautilus has exclusive global access to the Marine Microbial Library which is based at the University of Prince Edward Island.

We have enjoyed a very positive and collaborative relationship with both Croda and the University of Prince Edward Island for a number of years and have always been impressed with Crodas drive to develop the opportunities from marine biotechnology. Becoming part of the Croda group will provide Nautilus the resources and support to establish a key centre for the research and development of marine-derived natural products,​ Kerr said.

Details of the acquisition, such as price and timing, were not disclosed.

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