04 Oct Pure and green biotech products
Thanks to Iceland’s unpolluted lands and waters, sustainable energy and governmental support of science-based firms, the nation has become a strong innovator in biotechnology sectors that require uncontaminated ingredients and green processes.
One illustration of Iceland’s innovative strength is BIOEFFECT, the award-winning range of rejuvenating skincare that is the first worldwide to incorporate a plant-based epidermal growth factor, which is harvested from barley. “BIOEFFECT pioneered green and clean beauty: we’re science based, with a focus on efficacy, minimizing ingredients and our ‘Clean and Pure’ strategy. We use biotechnology for greater results, while also concentrating on sustainability,” says CEO Liv Bergþórsdóttir.
BIOEFFECT ensures quality and sustainability by making the range only in Iceland, where its barley grows in a high-tech greenhouse powered by renewable energy and irrigated with pure Icelandic water, and its products are purified with volcanic pumice.
BIOEFFECT has found global success with different generations, notes Bergþórsdóttir: “When I was young, we bought products our mothers used. Today, mothers are buying what their daughters are using, because young women are more aware about the best ingredients and they know that a good skincare regime should be followed long before wrinkles appear.”
Other innovators have capitalized on Iceland’s sealife-rich oceans. Algalif, for example, harvests microalgae to extract the antioxidant astaxanthin that has many health benefits. Formed in 2012 and now earning export revenues of $12 million a year, the carbon-neutral firm will open a new $30-million plant this year, quadrupling its manufacturing capacity. According to CEO Orri Björnsson: “The new facility will help us establish Algalif as the clear global leader in the production and marketing of natural astaxanthin. Furthermore, it will allow us to put even more focus on our research and development into other valuable algae products.”
Another leader in its sector is Primex, which sustainably produces contaminant-free fibrous chitosan from the shells of ocean shrimp. Primex’s pure chitosan is used as an ingredient by multiple industries, including food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, and the company has developed its own innovative beauty, dietary and water-clarifying branded goods as well.
Iceland has also fostered the fifth-fastest growing life sciences company in Europe: Kerecis, which has created a portfolio of products from wild Atlantic cod skin, a byproduct of the country’s fishing industry. The startup’s solutions mimic human skin and are transforming the treatment of acute and chronic wounds and burns. Having only launched its first products in 2016, 98% of which are sold to the US, healthcare giant Coloplast announced it was acquiring the Icelandic biotech firm for up to $1.3 billion this July. Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir believes the nation has the potential to produce more flagship innovators: “As a technologically advanced country, we can be in the front line of having ideas come to life and make an important contribution to a sustainable global economy.”