Croda opens marine biotech center in Canada

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty ingredient maker Croda opens marine biotech center in Canada
The specialty chemical maker is looking to the marine environment and biotechnology as a sustainable alternative to conventional personal care ingredient manufacturing. And having acquired Prince Edward Island – based Nautilus Biosciences at the start of the year, Croda worked swiftly to establish the new Center of Innovation in Marine Biotechnology and get to work identifying new functional ingredients.

“This is an exciting day for us,”​ Dr. Russ Kerr, tells the press. Kerr is a research fellow at Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc., (which this year became part of the Croda group of Companies, as Hank Schultz reported on Cosmetics Design​).

“We’ve been very fortunate to build on a relationship with a multinational speciality chemical company that values growth through sustainable innovation – enhancing our ability to discover even more marine microbes as a potential source of commercial ingredients,”​ says Kerr. “We are very proud to be opening this Center of Innovation in Marine Biotechnology in Prince Edward Island [PEI].”

From manufacturing to marine mining  

Like many specialty chemical makers, ingredient distributors, contract manufacturers, and brands, Croda is turning toward more bio-based and naturally derived inputs. (Learn how Acme Hardesty and that distributor’s partner suppliers are reinventing their businesses in this way in Cosmetics Design’s recent interview​ with Caren Dres-Hajeski.)

“Croda is a company that values innovation and invests in new technologies to deliver value to our customers today and in the future,”​ says Sandra Breene, president of personal care for Croda International, in the company’s media release about the new Center of Innovation in Marine Biotechnology.

“The acquisition of Nautilus,”​ she explains, “is part of our journey to expand from being a manufacturer of speciality chemicals into an organisation that embraces biotechnology as the answer to many of our customers and the consumer needs for new actives in a truly sustainable way.”

Investing in the coming bio-economy

Just as the petrochemical industry relies on geographies rich in petroleum (ironically enough formed from the remains of marine organisms), so too does the bio-economy of the future rely on geographies rich in biodiversity—which costal, ocean environments certainly are.  

When Croda acquired Nautilus Biosciences, the company was in essence, investing “in an automated high-throughput screening system that can dramatically increase the discovery of novel products derived from the marine microbe library,” ​according to the media release.

But it wasn’t a new or unproven venture. Kerr (who founded Nautilus Biosciences) “has worked since 2007 to establish the Marine Microbial Library at UPEI, collecting marine samples from the oceans of Canada and around the world and developing techniques to assess their value as sources of sustainable chemistry;” ​and even before the acquisition he had partnered with Croda for some 6 years.

It’s the sort of partnership that PEI organizations are eager to facilitate: “Croda’s investment in Nautilus is a testament to the quality of the innovation ecosystem in PEI,” ​says Rory Francis, executive director of the PEI BioAlliance, a private non-profit dedicated to developing bioscience industry in the province.

“Our business, research, and government partners work together to help academics and early stage companies commercialize their technologies and attract new investment,” ​explains Francis in the media release. “This,” ​he says, “is how we continue to grow this sector and increase its contribution to our provincial economy.”



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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