One such company is Ardra Bio, which specialises in petroleum-free, natural bio-chemicals for the beauty market, along with other FMCG industries.
The team is currently developing a natural alternative for a common ingredient called butylene glycol, swapping petroleum for sugar as its raw material. According to the company, it can be used as a humectant (a moisture-adding element), or a solvent for fragrances.
“Truly natural positioning is gaining importance with consumers, manufacturers, and retailers,” market research firm Kline recently observed. “This segment’s growth is projected at a CAGR of slightly less than 10% through 2019.”
Response to demand
Speaking recently to biotechin.asia, one of the company’s founders, Dr. Pratish Gawand, confirmed the demand behind their product.
“In the cosmetic industry, there is an increasing consumer demand for natural products,” he explained. “Hence, [brands] prefer to not use products derived from petroleum. Our ingredient can replace this petroleum-based ingredient.”
Gawand explained that the company’s three main target markets are India, the US and Canada, with its sights set on Europe and China further down the line too.
The researcher is confident the sugar-based butylene glycol will meet regulatory standards across the board, noting that the company “makes use of traditional fermentation” techniques.
In order to produce the petroleum-free chemicals, Ardra Bio uses artificial pathways and metabolic engineering, in line with the biotech industry more widely.
Gawand, based in North America, reckons that venture capital is the key to bio-manufacturing’s potential growth in Asia, noting that Malaysia and Singapore are key hubs for the sector.
“We need fast money to sustain in biotech,” he confirmed. “Singapore and Malaysia have attracted a lot of interest in the bio-based manufacturing sector.”