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Capsum’s Precision Farming Operation for Producing Active Ingredients

Published December 13, 2022
Published December 13, 2022

The global market value for natural and organic cosmetics is predicted to grow from $32.09B in 2022 to $50.46B by 2027 due to consumers becoming more informed about product ingredients. To ensure these ingredients are correctly grown and processed, companies with dedicated growth sites are essential. Recently, Capsum, the manufacturing company specializing in microfluidics, has taken a minority stake in Orius, a French start-up dedicated to developing technologies that enable the production of plants and mushrooms anywhere in the world. The news comes shortly after Capsum selected Orius as their key strategic design partner to build a precision farming operation for its sustainable manufacturing site in Austin, Texas.

"Orius identifies with the scientific artisan approach of Capsum, combining rigor and creativity in designing cosmetic products. Our close partnership also gives us the opportunity to take advantage of Capsum's experience to develop equipment and services specially adapted to the [beauty] industry," says Paul-Hector Oliver, Orius CEO.

Orius makes precision indoor farming accessible through a turnkey solution, thanks to its flagship product, the Biomebox. The Biomebox has production units that can be assembled in a gradual, Lego-like approach, making it possible for the brand's clients to adopt this new means of producing active ingredients and raw material in incremental steps, from proof-of-concept to large-scale production. The brand also accompanies its customer in the environmental, financial, and end-product assessments to validate sustainability metrics.

The Biomebox can be deployed in a short time frame, with lightweight infrastructure requirements, and is said to be able to work in conjunction with any laboratory environment, complying with sanitary and durability requirements. The technology can be adapted for any size of at-scale production. "Capsum chose Orius to set up its Precision Indoor Farm in Austin, TX, because of their credentials and skills in high-tech farming. While developing the project, both teams had such a great experience in sharing knowledge and ambition that they decided to partner to transform the Beauty Industry using Precision Indoor Farming," adds Sébastien Bardon, Capsum CEO.

Using proprietary technology and novel growth protocols, Orius progresses Capsum's vision of smartly growing plants to boost targeted active compounds for better product efficacy,  especially for complex plants or specific molecules,while reducing environmental impact. The bio-production facility, built as an expansion of Capsum’s existing site, is planned to be autonomous in water and energy sourcing. Its water needs are ensured through a closed-loop circuit, while its energy is powered by two acres of roof solar panels.

The partnership is a milestone for the beauty industry, accelerating the development of full-spectrum natural ingredient production, from initial plant screening to the development of active ingredients, including R&D, factory-farm engineering, and wall-to-wall production. In the future, beauty brands will be able to acquire natural and unique actives produced through the partnership. The initiative will start with the production of sunflower and microgreens, with plans to rapidly expand to other ingredients of natural origin, including flower and root extracts.

The collaboration will see several benefits for both companies, including:

More active molecules

Through Orius' expertise and equipment, it will now be possible to steer plants towards high-value ingredient production, also known as molecular farming, by fine-tuning the control and precision of environmental parameters. Through an ultra-short supply chain (local cultivation and extraction), the harvest of these high-quality fresh plants will ensure the best conservation of active molecules.

Low water consumption

Compared to conventional or greenhouse farming, precision indoor farming uses less water and nutrients due to a closed-loop approach, with recirculating water (everything that is not consumed is kept available for other plants to use). This water is collected by condensation, and reintroduced in the irrigation system, allowing 95% reduction in water and fertilizer use compared to traditional methods.

Secured supply

Precision indoor farming enables on-demand planning of production throughout the year, creating predictability of systems that are isolated from outside environmental stressors, making it possible to plan exactly when precluding shortages or overproduction and waste may take place.

Low carbon footprint

As a result of local production being close to the extraction and formulation site, transportation needs and their associated CO2 impact are significantly reduced. Furthermore, the demand for electricity in closed-loop indoor systems can be balanced through the gains in yield and concentration of the active compounds of interest. This further helps to produce cosmetics with a minimal carbon footprint.

By using precision indoor farming, brands can contribute to clean beauty, with their ingredients being grown in controlled environments, not using pesticides, and being free from environmental toxins. As a result of low water consumption, no pollution of soil, and less plant feed required, companies will also be able to further reduce their ecological impact. They will also be able to further engage consumers in their sustainability missions, opening up conversations surrounding climate change and geopolitical situations, thanks to a unique production model. Overall, the benefits of such technologies and manufacturing sites can only be a positive step for beauty, encouraging brands and consumers alike to work towards an industry that makes climate-conscious and sustainable decisions at a time when they're most needed.


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