Project InnCoCells

Innovative high-value cosmetic products from plants and plant cells
logo progetto InnCoCells
Acronym: 
InnCoCells
Funding type: 
EU Programmes
Programma Quadro UE: 
HORIZON 2020
Duration: 
1 May 2021 to 30 April 2025
ENEA role: 
Partner
ENEA Project Leader: 
Gianfranco Diretto
Personnel: 
Alessia Fiore
Sarah Frusciante
Olivia Demurtas
Silvia Massa
Luca Nardi
Ombretta Presenti
Status: 
ongoing

In the most recent economic forecast, the global cosmetics market is predicted to reach $438.4 billion by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1%. The market is segmented by categories such as hair care, skin care, makeup, deodorants/toiletries, edible cosmetics and perfumes, with skin care accounting for ~39%, haircare for ~21% and makeup for ~19%.

Cosmetic ingredients may work as fragrances, colorants, moisturisers, thickening agents and stabilisers, but the most valuable functions include sun protection, anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, whiteners and antimicrobials. In this context, the InnCoCells project aims to develop innovative and sustainable plant-based production processes for the commercial exploitation of scientifically validated cosmetic ingredients based on underutilised plant resources.

Within the different industrial segments, InnCoCells project will focus especially on ingredients and products for the skin care, which is consistently the most profitable.

The production process pipeline of the selected plant resources will be optimized for being profitable and sustainable using cell cultures, aeroponics and greenhouse/field cultivation. In addition, InnCoCells will apply systematic approaches including metabolic engineering tools to optimise growth conditions and the yields of valuable bioactive, small-molecule compounds and ingredients. The optimised processes will be demonstrated by pilot-scale production and subsequent product extraction/purification.

The ingredients and extracts will be evaluated using a unique panel of innovative enzyme based and cell-based assays to ensure safety and validate claimed activities based on robust scientific data without animal testing.

As final objective, InnCoCells will bring at least ten cosmetic ingredients to the pre-commercial stage and includes a cascade biorefinery concept in which by-products and biowaste are utilised for the extraction of further bioactive molecules. Along the different steps, the processes will be characterised by techno-economic assessment and life cycle analysis to ensure economic feasibility and a reduced environmental footprint. Overall, the InnCoCells consortium includes eight SMEs and one large company from the cosmetic sector among the 17 partners to facilitate exploitation.