Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SymbiCoat Report Summary

Project ID: 729753

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SymbiCoat (A breakthrough in biocide technology that combines the potency of two different antimicrobials to obtain unparalleled efficacy.)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

"Exigence’s product opens “blue ocean” opportunities in the food processing market, where no previous generation of antimicrobial coatings has the technical capability to address the major sanitation problems.
Problem #1 : Food contamination. Food recalls is a public health issue, but also a significant economic issue. The average cost of a recall to a food company is €10M in direct costs, in addition to brand damage and lost sales . In the EU, food recalls are published through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). In 2014, the RASFF transmitted a total of 3,157 food recall notices and public health warnings related to the food industry. Compared to 2013, the RASFF notices figure has increased by more than 25%.
Problem #2 : Low biocide performance. Thanks to their practicality, the food industry widely uses liquid biocides as disinfectants and food preservatives. Nevertheless, liquid based disinfection provides minimal residual efficacy: as soon as lengthy shut down disinfection is complete, the environment is subject to recontamination again. Bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., Campylobacter spp. and several others can produce biofilms. Over time, the film becomes enhanced and may contain different species of bacteria, yielding a constant source of contamination.
Problem #3 : Toxicity and safety concern. Leaching of biocides is a health and environmental issue. Most antimicrobial technologies have to physically migrate to the microbial cell in order to be effective. Thus, the active ingredient leaches into groundwater, heavily affecting the health of humans and wildlife . Furthermore many biocides used to disinfect surfaces are irritants and sensitizers acting on the skin, eyes and mucous membranes . They can lead to e.g. allergic contact dermatitis and asthma . Especially occupational users of biocides might also be at risk of accidents as a severe incident with chlorine gas in a poultry farm exemplarily demonstrated.
Problem #4 : Poor large-scale production sustainability. When the active ingredients migrates out of the product they have been artificially introduced into, the supply of the active ingredient available in the original product declines, and with it, the antimicrobial activity of the substrate or material. In many cases this migrations, and the associated decline of antimicrobial activity, can happen very quickly in the life cycle of the biocide. As a result, repeated product applications are required leading to high costs spent over sanitation procedures by end-users.
Problem #5 : Market gap. The development of resistances against biocides causes concern, because the inactivation of the biocide usually results in unexpected and hard to manage microbial contamination . One reason for the occurrence of resistant microbial strains is the frequent application of biocides at concentrations that are too low to kill all microorganisms. As bacteria become resistant, following the stress imposed through antibiotic selection, they may evolve and undergo genetic changes which make these organisms more difficult to eliminate. This may in turn increase the likelihood of transmisison through the food chain. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) causes some 25,000 deaths and over €1.5B in healthcare expenses and productivity losses in Europe alone . Some existing biocides (Triclosan, OBPA), proven to induce antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to antibiotics, have been recently regulated out of the European market by the European Chemicals Agency. Other traditional biocides also affected by AMR (using silver, copper, QACs and chitosan) turn out to be everyday less effective and counterproductive. It exists a market need for new chemistries to fill the void."

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the Phase 1 feasibility assessment, Exigence accomplished a full analysis of the technical and business potential of the SymbCoat’s antimicrobial coating technology. Throughout the duration of the project, Exigence expanded their knowledge of the biocide and food processing industry, coating capabilities and in particular the European market. As conclusion, the feasibility assessment showed that SymbiCoat has a viable commercial application with a large market that can evolve and cover a broad range of simultaneous applications once Exigence’s coating system is validated and commercialized. This is proven by the market research results and detailed customer analysis. Furthermore the technology has already gained traction with several customers who have committed to adopting it once it becomes commercially available showing strong end user demand. Considering the overall results of the Phase 1 assessment, it would be worthy to follow up with the implementation of the industrialisation and commercialisation plan. This is fully aligned with Exigence’s strategy to validate and maximize SymbiCoat potential for the uses that are more commercially favorable (e.g. food processing applications). Following these carefully assessed considerations, Exigence evaluated that the SME Instrument Phase 2 funding could provide the correct amount of funding and support to allow the implementation activities to be performed in the most suitable conditions. This will advance Exigence’s innovative technology in market approaching, penetrating and positioning. Exigence will therefore be applying for the Phase 2 funding.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Following the accomplished work listed above, a key point of the feasibility study has been to identify the most important tasks for delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) which would fulfil SymbiCoat’s product specifications for the specific use-case scenario. The biocide coating polymer will be produced, tested and optimized under real manufacturing conditions in order to achieve a marketable product. The previous development, carried out in Exigence’s laboratory, has been focused on the characterization of microbial characteristics for internal lab-grade efficacy, toxicology and recharge testing. The activities of the Exigence’s project within the feasibility study covered the assessment of the partner on-site manufacturing conditions, including the characterization of existing microbial populations and the specification of the end-users coating requirements for product integration. The MVP specifications have been assessed not only on the basis of users’ requirements, and the company capabilities to pursue the best route for the go-to market application, but also on the evaluation of costs related to performing incremental manufacturing process as a successful industrialization plan would require. In fact, some types of antimicrobial surface functionalization require multiple complex steps in the treatment process, which add undue time and cost to the final product. This is why Exigence during the feasibility study has focused on creating an attainable product roadmap for a rapid and broadly applicable coating process that is effective, durable, stable, and only requires 3-4 minutes of processing.

Value Proposition: SymbiCoat solves the main issues associated with biocide industry for food applications, such as performance (efficacy/time), duration and sustainability and bringing benefits to the the entire food supply chain.
- Value for equipment manufacturers (primary clients): Easy and universal product integration. Symbicoat new coating technology allows simple spray application of the active agent on multiple surfaces in the food processing facilities, including food contact surfaces, walls, floors, and especially hard-to reach areas that harbor pathogens. SymbiCoat’s versatility opens new possibilities in engineering controls for industrial food processing equipment manufacturers. They can provide a strong solution for hygiene & prevention of cross contamination, succeeding in the attempt to meet customers’ requirments on food safety, while avoiding the burden to design and produce better solutions for clean-in-place procedures.
- Value for food processors (end-users): Unparalleled efficacy. SymbiCoat demonstrates unparalleled kill rate of any germ, virus and fungus at a contact time of less than 15 minutes (99.9999% vs 99,9% in 1H of Silver, leading competitive biocide), and achieving higher efficacy with lower levels of its active ingredient (10 X increase in kill kinetics with 10X less active ingredient loading required compared to Silver). Furthermore, the new coating provides durable (>100 life cycles) and easily renewable protection against a broad spectrum of microbes. Applied on the food processing equipment, SymbiCoat could make the difference between a food recall or no recall at all for the food company. This will save tens of millions of dollars in direct costs to replace spoiled food, but much more improves brand reputation and consumer confidence.
- Value for the distributors: Easly scalable solution. Distributor can quote any project from a limited coating purchase in a single small food processing company to a large industrial food manufacturing plant, meaning a higher market share and additional revenues. Any order can be scaled up on demand even long after the initial coating application, without having to discard the initial components. Full scalability with only one product means distributors do not have to store a large number of different components, which is less capital tied in the inventory.
- Value for the environment: No leaching toxic profile. SymbiCoat’s polymer attracts and arrest microbes on the treated surface, forcing contact with its bound active ingredient. Thus, no antimicrobial substance leaches out, avoiding any kind of environmental contamination and hazard. Moreover the coating product breaks down to salt & water and won’t accumulate in the surrounding media/environment.
- Value for the society: No AMR alarm. Unlike every non-oxidizing form of antimicrobial technology which can be adhered to a surface, such as silver, organic compounds and QACs, SymbiCoat does not induce resistance in bacteria. This will allow a great alleviation on societal resources spent to address the health and economic burden of AMR. Therefore, SymbiCoat has the potential to fundamentally change the sanitation paradigm in food production and processing by providing an effective and non-alarming treatment for a significant unmet market need.

Related information

Record Number: 195082 / Last updated on: 2017-02-17
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