Still gaining momentum

KialabOriginally, Kialab was a spin-off of Eurotrading’s research and development activities but over the years the company acquired the status of an independent company focused, both on consultancy and development of special ingredients for the cosmetics industry

Based in Gerenzano, near Varese, in the North Western part of Italy, Kialab is specialized in consultancy services and in application technology services to Personal care and cosmetic ingredients companies. Over the last couple of years the company has added to the mentioned services a new business unit specialised in developing and marketing new functional actives ingredients. Thanks to its business units, each one of which is able to express the company’s different skills and competences, Kialab can also provide customers worldwide with ingredients benchmark studies and systematic lab analysis to identify the raw materials unique selling points or the best performing ingredient for a specific application. Chief Operating Officer Massimo Armada gave KosWorld a complete overview of Kialab’s activities and forthcoming projects.

Could you first describe Kialab’s current business model and strategy, mister Armada?

Today our activity is primarily based on consultancy services, that play a more prominent role in our business model than the development and sale of functional ingredients. Our customers are based in Italy but we aim a stronger international presence. Many of our clients are multinational players, also headquartered in the country, but intentioned to make use of our global performance evaluation methodology and skills. Sales and development of our functional actives are carried out on a worldwide basis thanks to the expertise of our partners and distributors. We can rely on partner companies in a number of foreign nations but actually we mainly focus on Europe, that represents the largest part of our overall market share, especially due to the Central and Western regions of the continent. We are currently in the process to expand our presence in the other regions of the World, with a special focus on The United States, and Asia-Pacific.

What are Kialab’s major sources of revenue and what can you forecast for the future?

We closed 2016 with revenue of close to 1.5 million euros with the major impact on sales came from consultancy service activities. We forecast that sales of our active ingredients segment will growth at high rate in years to come. Within five years we are confident that our consultancy business will expand threefold while ingredients business can develop at much higher pace. We are specialized on added value ingredients and this makes us think that these plans are undoubtedly ambitious, but realistic too. As for our workforce, we can rely on 13 employees but one must think that when we started, five years ago, the company would only employ two professionals: our growth rate was indeed remarkable, from this point of view. Of course, our belief is that we will manage to hire further highly skilled workers with a sound scientific background and that our distribution network will also experience a significant enlargement. The distributors we are looking for must display a solid local presence, they have to be visible and respected. But policies can vary depending on the areas we will target and approach in the next few years.

What are Kialab’s points of strength for what concerns the cosmetics business alone?

Concerning our application technology services, we are now able to cover all of the most significant market segments of the cosmetics business and what makes us different is the ability to create our formulations immediately after the briefings we have with clients, on the one hand; and on the other the competences we can rely on when it comes to texture and performance evaluations or sensory profiles determination. Our work is then completed and integrated with market studies about the positioning of different formulations in the various fields of the beauty and personal care scenario. This means our efforts are both devoted to the typical technical aspects as well as to an intense, constant marketing analysis.

You recently launched a few new ingredients: could you describe their main peculiarities?

The first one is Flavocare: this product family is based on propolis-derived ingredients that is produced by a new patented technology developed by a partner company. These extracts are particularly rich and standardized in high value polyphenols fraction that has been separated from the remaining and least desirable parts of propolis itself like resins and waxes. We studied Flavocare extracts through in vitro, ex vivo and clinical tests, by identifying previously unexperienced or less explored areas of application. For instance, nobody before us had ever thought about utilizing them in the deodorization sector, but Kialab managed to build upon both their deodorant and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, they proved to be highly effective in treating acne-related wounds and impure skins, as clinical tests clearly demonstrated, showing among all, a significant sebo-regulation activity.

What about the second most recent release, the Sugarderm line, mister Armada?

Sugarderm is based on a number of rare, or less common, mono and tri-saccharides that we have been studying over the years. They are originated from fermentation processes and they can display a powerful skin care activity, primarily enhancing skin density and elasticity. The feedback we are receiving from the market are most encouraging, also thanks to the fact that these products come from sustainable and solvent-free extraction processes, are standardized and highly purified, and linked with a new trend of cosmetic product based on «Glycobiology». Their fields of applications are potentially most varied, but specifically indicated into skin care and body care lines.

Is your pipeline already hosting new and innovative formulations or ingredients?

Today our attention is focused on sustainable development processes and organic or nature-like ingredients, referring to natural molecules that the cosmetics sector can also build upon, given their specific properties. But we are also carrying out studies and tests on residual products from the agro-food industry biomasses for instance, because we are confident there is a whole number of interesting molecules we can discover there. Our pipeline is rapidly filling up with new initiatives and we are deploying them together with research centres and universities in Italy, for the moment, hopefully in other countries too in the near future.

What kind of role can Kialab play in the cosmetics industry in the next decades?

Our aim is to become a part of the service and innovative ingredients providers’ scene in the personal care sector, in order to give customers the added value they ask for and in order to completely fulfil their business needs.

The importance of being Green

Since June 2016 Kialab has joined the Lombardy Green Chemistry Association, created by the Lombardy Region with the purpose of grouping together all those companies, research centres and universities sharing common interest and competences in the area of bio-economy, so as to promote the use of renewable resources and sustainability. The development of Green Chemistry has recently become a crucial issue for all those companies which have to take on those big contemporary challenges such as climate change, lack of resources, environmental protection, agricultural multi-functionality, improvement of living conditions, new opportunities for growth and occupation as well as a better business competitiveness. Kialab wants to take an active part in this modern progress, whose big challenges are not only technical and scientific, but also economic, social and political. The firm chose therefore to associate with the Lombard Technological Cluster of Green Chemistry, and share its expertise and competences with all the other companies and research centres in the area, in order to take a common stand as far as regards the regional policies for innovation and participate to informative events and cooperation’s initiatives.

Sugarderm: sustainability is key

Sugarderm, the ingredient that Kialab launched between 2016 and 2017, consists of innovative functional active ingredients for the skin care, with anti-age and hydrating efficacy; they are made up of nature-like carbohydrates found in breast milk, obtained through high-tech and highly sustainable biotechnological process. Supported by the firm belief that those good sugars, so healthy from the nutritional point of view could be likewise good for the skin, Kialab was thus led to its research for a new range of active ingredients for several uses in skin care. This research was carried out through the analysis of some of these ingredients, that we called Sugarderm®, studying their interaction with water and skin receptors. The results obtained from our research proved the remarkable healthy effects that these good sugars can exert on the epidermis and confirmed the starting intuition that what nourishes human life at his early stages must also mean life for our skin.

by Michele Cerruti