This month, biotech company Debut secured $34 million in Series B funding from a group of vested participants including BOLD, L’Oreal’s venture capital fund. Through the strategic partnership with BOLD, Debut will be able to expand its portfolio of novel ingredients for cosmetic and personal care product formulation utilizing its proprietary cell-free model.
Debut is unique in its vertical integration capabilities, which enables the biotech company to integrate ingredient research into the delivery of finished CPGs through its proprietary Bio2Consumer platform. The platform features a 3.8 million+ database of data points to support manufacturers in better meeting consumer needs and can produce finished goods through a combination of cell-free and advanced fermentation processes.
To learn more about Debut’s expansive ingredient portfolio, the current pain points facing cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers that Debut’s expanded proprietary platform can help solve, and its plans to apply the recently secured funding into further ingredient research and development, CosmeticsDesign interviewed Joshua Britton, Founder and CEO of Debut for his insights.
CDU: What is Debut’s potential impact on manufacturers and suppliers to the cosmetics and personal care product industries?
Joshua Britton (JB): We call ourselves the unconventional innovation lab because our ambition is to turn the active ingredient manufacturing process on its head. We are not interested in producing the same old active ingredients, endlessly reformulated.
Our reason for being is to bring brand new active ingredients to consumers that completely turn the game around in beauty. Our ingredients are natural, they are found in trace amounts in nature, and they clinically outperform all current active ingredients in every category, such as barrier protection, brightening and hydration.
They are also made with sustainability, safety and natural considerations as overriding priorities, and they can only be made with Debut’s technology platform. So, in answer to your question, we are leading the charge into a brand-new world of cosmetic bioactive ingredients.
We believe that biotech beauty is the future of the industry. Manufacturers gain access to new ingredients that address new areas of consumer innovation.
Also - and this is a wonderful problem to have - we have too many novel ingredients and would love to collaborate with partners to lead this revolution!
CDU: Can you share some background information about Debut’s proprietary cell-free and biotechnology model?
JB: Debut’s advanced biomanufacturing approaches unlock a new generation of cosmetic bioactive ingredients. Science allows us to understand how nature makes precious and rare active ingredients so that we can translate it to an industrially scalable system.
Only Debut’s hybrid cell-free technology can create these novel, high-performing cosmetic bioactive ingredients that are unattainable by any other means, giving us exclusive access to a universe of untapped potential.
We are the only biotech company with fully vertical integration capabilities incorporating ingredient discovery, cell-free, biofermentation, formulation, finished clinically backed scalable ingredients and brand creation, all delivered at unprecedented speed.
While microbes can convert simple sugars into a range of beauty ingredients, they are limited by what type of ingredients they can make (complexity, solubility, activity). To overcome these hurdles of traditional fermentation, Debut created cell-free enzyme manufacturing.
In cell-free enzyme reactions, the enzymes (the important parts of the cell doing the work) are removed from the constraints of the cell. Here, the enzyme enjoys different temperatures, pH, and reaction conditions that fermentation conditions cannot provide. This cell-free biomanufacturing ‘add on’ pushes the limits of biomanufacturing.
Debut can therefore make cosmetic ingredients that are not possible with fermentation, chemical synthesis, or cultivation. Cell-free enzyme catalysis allows enzymes to be used in an industrial setting to create complex novel biomolecules with novel or heightened performance.
Using both cell-free and fermentation, Debut possesses all the tools needed to create any ingredient. Our proprietary technology has removed the limitation on what’s possible regarding ingredient type, complexity, and performance.
CDU: How will Debut utilize the recently secured L’Oréal funding to expand and further innovate in the cosmetics and personal care product spaces?
JB: L’Oréal’s investment, through its BOLD venture capital fund, will enable Debut to rapidly scale its innovative manufacturing platform and meet growing demand for breakthrough ingredients to be used in cosmetics, skincare, and packaging.
We will be developing a wide variety of novel ingredients and beauty and personal care products using our proprietary cell-free and biotechnology model, with a view to accelerating the commercialization of our technology across the entire beauty industry.
Later this year, we will be launching our own consumer brand that will continue to upend the industry.
CDU: Are there any challenges or pain points currently facing the cosmetics and personal care product industries that Debut is seeking to solve? If so, what are those challenges and what solutions have been developed and implemented to address them?
JB: Up until now, consumers have had to choose between natural or lab-made ingredients and either way they were making a compromise. Now, they can have the best of both worlds thanks to Debut’s IP portfolio that brings high value to products, and according to the highest sustainability benchmarks.
We can deliver outstanding ingredient performance, safety, and quality assurance.
The beauty of Debut’s 7,000-plus new and innovative ingredients is that they target unmet consumer needs. We have screened over 250 ingredients for application in skincare and personal care products.
These ingredients are completely novel to the market. This means that Debut is the only company able to give brands the differentiation and superior performance they need regarding active ingredients.
CDU: Anything else to add?
JB: Debut is committed to remaining at the forefront of beauty. The beauty industry is just starting its transition into a new generation of ingredients and products.
Over the next five to ten years, consumers will see the current set of active ingredients, such as vitamin C, squalene and niacinamide, become obsolete and new ingredients only dreamt about will become mainstream. With the combination of synthetic biology, computational biology and AI, the world of beauty as we know it will be transformed.
Debut will be right at the forefront of this transition to provide the highest-performing and safest products that will enable people to live better.