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How DSM-Firmenich and Interstellar Lab Are Looking to Create the Future of Fragrance Ingredients

Published April 7, 2024
Published April 7, 2024
Interstellar Lab

Biotech is providing an exciting alternative for the future of fragrance creation, offering a less resource-intensive approach to growing ingredients, while also crafting the ability to shape entire new categories of raw materials or fine-tune materials found in nature.

DSM-Firmenich is increasing its efforts behind this wave of innovation with a partnership with biotech start-up Interstellar Lab. Founded in 2018, the start-up is known for creating advanced biofarms for accelerating plant growth, boosting dedicated molecule production in botanical life, reducing energy and resource consumption, improving life cycle assessment of ingredients, and capturing CO2. Features include real-time monitoring of environmental conditions and crop health, precision irrigation systems, and automated harvesting and processing technologies.

Its end-to-end solutions have previously been employed by enterprises like L’Oréal and NASA. “Our biofarming platform represents a revolution in the perfumery landscape, understanding and addressing the current industry needs to provide renewable ingredients, responsibly sourced and produced, that inspire creators and respect the environment,” adds Barbara Belvisi, CEO and founder of Interstellar Lab.

The two companies are looking to explore botanical ingredient production through an ingredient research program. Areas of specialty will include how environmental conditions impact plant yield and phenotype evaluation, with a focus on rare and endangered plant species—including “silent flowers” (those with no aromatic profile) like lilac, wisteria, violet, lily of the valley, lily, freesia, honeysuckle, lilac, hyacinth, sweet mock orange, Mexican orange blossom, and pittosporum. Interstellar Lab’s biotech expertise and AI-controlled environment settings will be a key factor in preserving biodiversity and finding ways to minimize climate impact on farming. Using Interstellar Lab’s setup, they will also explore solutions to common difficulties of aromatic plant agriculture such as water stress, high temperatures, crop weakness, and acclimatization to depleted land/soil quality.

“Our biofarming platform represents a revolution in the perfumery landscape, understanding and addressing the current industry needs to provide renewable ingredients, responsibly sourced and produced, that inspire creators and respect the environment.”
By Barbara Belvisi, CEO + founder, Interstellar Lab

It’s not the first time Firmenich (prior to its 2022 merger with DSM) has tried its hand at biotech. In May 2020, the manufacturer created Dreamwood, a biodegradable sandalwood captive with skincare benefits. "Our commitment to innovation drives us to continually expand the horizons of natural ingredients. By exploring cutting-edge agrotech advancements, we're reshaping the landscape of species selection, anticipating challenges of production and sourcing, and prioritizing the highest quality of ingredients. This dedication ensures we deliver the purest, and most authentic natural extracts for perfumery,” comments Xavier Brochet, Global Head of Natural Innovation at DSM-Firmenich.

Michal Benmayor, VP Perfumery Innovation and Sustainability at DSM-Firmenich, adds: “At DSM-Firmenich, we valorize natural ingredients and continuously push the boundaries of innovation and sustainability for perfumery. Our partnership with Interstellar Lab represents another avenue of exploration in agrotech, expanding our ability to harness the synergy of nature and science, breaking the conventions to uncover unparalleled excellence in both olfactive quality and sustainability for our creations.”

Together, the companies are hoping to create new exclusive natural fragrance compounds that can be the building blocks for more sustainable perfume creations. Speaking to BeautyMatter, the DSM-Firmenich team adds: “Innovations in agrotech offer many benefits to the perfume industry. DSM-Firmenich’s field of exploration draws on this diversity of approaches and scales to consider the possible areas of biomass production and development in the future, to go faster, with optimized precision and efficiency. Our collaboration with Interstellar Lab aims to continue exploring and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this sector, particularly in controlled environments.” The DSM-Firmenich and Interstellar Lab partnership is another strong example of how biotech is shaping the future of beauty and why partnerships and collaboration will be the key to driving change.


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