INNOVATION AND STARTUPS: SCIENTIST ENTREPRENEUR SCALES ECO-FRIENDLY INDUSTRIAL DISINFECTANT WITH EXCELL CHILE
- The no-rinse formula can be used directly on food and will begin to be sold this 2020 second semester.
When the biotechnology engineer at University of Concepción, 31-year-old Luis Aguilar, did his master’s in microbiology, the idea of developing an applied innovation to the non-toxic cleaning area started turning in his head. Along with his thesis came the opportunity, which allowed him to lay the foundations for Dacetix research, an innocuous disinfectant of industrial use for food and surfaces, which this year will reach the market along with Excell Chile.
‘I wanted to develop something that could end up as some product or service. And in that context, I focused on foodborne diseases, a problem affecting Chile as well as the rest of the world. Currently, each year one in ten people gets sick with food contaminated with bacteria, such as listeria and salmonella, Aguilar remarks.
The ‘promising’ Master’s thesis results, he says, allowed him to apply for a Technological Valuation Development at University Research (Fondef VIU) from former Conicyt, and later he applied for a $60 million Seed Capital of Flexible Allowance (SSAF) from Corfo. With these resources he developed the first disinfectant prototype meant to be used by the Agroindustry, on the way to get the innovation health registration, and founded BMiTek, startup focused on biotechnology.
Afterwards, he was selected by Know Hub Ignition programme, a Corfo supported consortium, which enabled him to speed up the product to the market. ‘This programme pushed us away from the laboratory and I ended up consolidating the team’, the entrepreneur states.
Aguilar explains that Dacetix is a mixture of compounds ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS) by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means it is a no-toxic product for human consumption, therefore, it can be applied directly on food and surfaces in contact with them. Tests have already been carried out with blueberries, plums, salmon and chicken.
‘Our proposal is that when using this disinfectant, no rinsing is required, as it is no-toxic and eco-friendly. These compounds are enhanced when blended, work better together than in isolation, and precisely this synergist mixture is our innovation’, the scientist entrepreneur claims.
Aguilar remarks that they are currently in the field validation process of the disinfectant, adjusting the doses, with the aim of starting the marketing process.
He says that by the end of January they signed a contract with the cleaning supplies company Ambientes Limpios S.A., Clean Environments Ltd., representing Excell Chile brand.
The commercial alliance covers three areas, Dacetix sales as disinfectant, the use of the formula to be used in Excell products, and BMiTek becoming the Research and Development branch for the cleaning supplies company.
Aguilar states that his goal is getting the health registration by the middle of the year, to begin commercializing at industrial scale during 2020 second semester. Starting with 20 litre drums for industrial use through Excell sales channels, the next step will be to incorporate the formula to two other products of the same brand, like floor cleaners and air fresheners, still under testing.
‘This year we aim at bringing the product on the market, and in 2021 positioning and licensing it to an international level, together with tracing the route towards internationalization. We’ve already contacted a company in California, Aguilar anticipates.
Focused on Biotechnology
BMiTek goals are ambitious. Aguilar reveals their goal is becoming a biotechnological development company to provide Research and Development services to companies – Excell Chile being the first – while at the same time developing their own products.
He comments they are working together with Agricultural Innovation Foundation (FIA) on a disinfection device.
Besides, they are in conversations and doing tests with agricultural and fruit companies to begin process validations – in agricultural packing – where they intend ‘to become a complement of the products in use at the moment’, and they are also performing field tests in vineyards, where they seek to control a fungus which damages grapes, what would position them as an alternative to pesticides.
‘Our vision is to make Dacetix the first stone wherefrom we can start exploring other areas as biological products, biocontrollers and others, which we’ll go on dealing with as we become stronger as a company, setting milestones’, the entrepreneur anticipates.