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Probiotics: how they work and evaluate the effectiveness
Probiotics: how they work and evaluate the effectiveness 
Sept 30, 2022 / Trends in nutraceuticals 

With a value of 1.1 billion US dollars in 2020, the global market for probiotic supplements for gastrointestinal health is set to establish itself as one of the fastest growing ones, reaching 2.1 billion US dollars by 2027 (Nils-Gerrit Wunsch, Jun 29, 2022-Statista).
Probiotics are live and active microorganisms in specific products such as supplements or foods capable of performing a beneficial effect on human health, thanks to the antagonism towards pathogenic microorganisms and the production of antimicrobial substances, strengthening the intestinal ecosystem.

Several studies have demonstrated the ability of probiotic supplements to mitigate dysfunction of the microbiota, the complex and varied set of living organisms colonising the intestinal system carrying out numerous physiological functions. It is a system characterised by great complexity and variability: the gut microbiota of a single individual is, on average, 90% Firmicutes and 10% Actinobacteria, as well as 160 different species of bacteria, at least 75% are present in 50% of the population (Hellas Cena, Ilaria Di Napoli, 2019).

Despite a common microbiota, some variability between individuals and bacteria strains is demonstrated. When the microbiota produces harmful effects on the host’s health, we speak of dysbiosis manifested with alterations in the composition, diversity, distribution and metabolic activity.

Although their value has been widely demonstrated, decision-making processes patient-specific for probiotics administration are not always supported by quantitative and qualitative efficacy assessments, hampering their potential clinical support. The bacteria’s strains selection treating specific symptoms and improper patient intake are further factors that hinder a wider use of probiotics. Numerous strains with positive functions in mitigating some dysbiosis symptoms, the clinic has a limited amount of helpful information to discriminate the most efficient strains; therefore, the administration of the probiotic takes place according to efficacy criteria not supported by analysis and systematic screening.

In recent Italbiotec’s study Evaluating the Efficacy of Probiotics in IBS Treatment Using a Systematic Review of Clinical Trials and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (Ceccherini C, 2022), the problems related to the effectiveness of probiotics and the search for a method able to objectively evaluate the beneficial effects in improving the symptomatology of dysbiosis were addressed.

The answers were obtained using the MCDA method. This method has allowed the classification of the most effective strains in combination, based on the improvement of the primary and secondary effects related to their administration and providing research perspectives in the field of probiotics. The application of MCDA has the advantage of being an ex-ante decision-making tool alongside clinical research trials – for selecting the most effective strains in pharmacological treatment.

by Cecilia Ceccarini

Innovation in food supplements: towards sustainable routes
Innovation in food supplements: towards sustainable routes
July 15, 2022 / Back to nature wave  

With a value of 137 billion US dollars in 2021, the global nutraceuticals market is set for resounding growth, doomed to reach 185.1 billion by 2025 and 239.4 billion US dollars by 2028 (Statista; Adroit Market Research). The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in driving unprecedented demand, fueled by the search for several vitamins and minerals potentially helpful in strengthening the immune system (National Institutes of Health) and improving mental well-being debilitated by lockdowns and heavy social contact restrictions.
With demand growth and greater consumer attention to sustainable, safe, natural products, the production and research of new formulations are expanding, increasing global revenues.
Not only the vitamins but also plant-based supplements and botanical extracts active as health promotors enjoy the popular consideration of "naturalness" and lead a "back to nature" wave, boosting a global market of 5.05 billion US dollars in 2021.

The green transition of nutraceuticals represents a challenge and a great business opportunity for the formulations market aimed at guaranteeing the highest safety and quality standards with the lowest environmental impact. However, for plant-based products, numerous alternative biomasses, extraction and processing processes are available, factors that can significantly influence the efficiency of the supply chain.
The instability of raw material costs and affordable access to biomass are finally conditions crucial to defining a business model feasibility.

What tools can be exploited for the development of feasibility studies? Among the most effective ones, the Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is a methodological approach that allows you to make complex choices in the presence of alternative options.

In the botanical extracts sector, a recent Italbiotec research study (Borroni M et al., 2021) focused on chlorogenic acid (CGA) and inulin, compounds with a current and predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) (up to 2027) of 3.44% and 4% (Absolute Reports). Capable of having beneficial interactions with human metabolisms, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, and anti-obesity activity, these molecules can be derived from green coffee and chicory. New ways to reduce the environmental impact of these compounds are possible by evaluating cardoon as a possible alternative and promising raw material for the extraction of CGA and inulin, thanks to the high concentration, low-input growth regime and the possibility of being cultivated on marginal land.

The MCDA method evaluates the performance of different biomass, comparing the most significant impact criteria to obtain botanical extracts and ranking the most sustainable ones. It is, therefore, a valuable tool in evaluating business performance and supporting decision-making processes for designing more sustainable and competitive products.

by Cecilia Ceccarini

Enzymes: driving our products towards a more sustainable future.
Enzymes: driving our products towards a more sustainable future. 
June 14, 2022 / Advances in technology 

Every year four-members family in Europe consumes on average 16-20 kg of detergent, 30 kg of textiles and 1 kg of cosmetics. By 2030 these figures are expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.8-6.3%, with related environmental impacts on pollution and water consumption, waste generation and energy consumption. Looking for biodegradability and maximum efficiency is therefore imperative.
Funded by the European Union with around 6 million euros, the FuturEnzyme project aims to unlock the potential of enzymes through an innovative and integrative approach to obtain detergent, cosmetics and textiles with lower environmental impact.

Enzymes are biological catalysts capable of speeding up chemical reactions that could not happen on their own due to their slowness or strongly dependency on the energy involved. Widely used in industry, enzymes have a great ability to make manufacturing processes greener. Detergents based on enzymes, for example, require lower temperature, washing times and phosphates, helping reduce water pollution. Enzymes-based detergents are also less aggressive towards textiles than synthetic alternatives (Vojcic L., 2015). Even in the textile sector, the standard manufacturing process involves toxic chemicals (1.5-3.0% by weight) and a large amount of water that can be reduced thanks to enzymes. Energy and environmental efficiency can also be achieved in the cosmetic sector, where enzymes can confer protective, exfoliating and absorption properties of active ingredients (Sunar K, 2016).

FuturEnzyme exploits 'smart' enzymes that meet industry efficiency and stability requirements through the massive search for extremophile microorganisms from remote and inaccessible habitats. By combining big data mining, machine learning, sophisticated activity-based bioprospecting, protein engineering, and nano-biotechnology, FuturEnzyme creates more environmentally friendly and affordable everyday enzyme-based products. The project involves a multidisciplinary team of 16 European academic and industrial partners, including cross-sectoral multi-stakeholders providing a broad network of technical skills, industrial processes and market players.

In FuturEnzyme, Italbiotec works as a leader in communication and dissemination to create a wide international network by connecting academia and manufacturers. Italbiotec is responsible for the environmental assessment of enzyme-based products carrying out a Life Cycle Assessments and a Socio-economic study on over 10,000 European consumers to verify the market potential, evaluate purchasing habits and propensities, facilitate a change in behaviour leading to more sustainable choices.

by Cecilia Ceccarini

LIFE 2022 Call for proposals open! 598 million for green ideas
LIFE 2022 Call for proposals open! 598 million for green ideas 
May 26, 2022 / EU Funds for climate 

The LIFE 2022 Call for proposals, the longest-running European program dedicated to addressing environmental and climate challenges, was published on 17 May 2022 with a budget of 598 million for nature conservation, environmental protection, climate action, and clean energy transition projects.
With a total budget of 5.43 billion for 2021-2027, the LIFE programme funds demo projects based on innovative breakthrough technologies, good practices and regional, interregional or national environmental and climate plans.
LIFE projects have a duration of about 4 years and you can participate as a single entity or as a partnership (starting with a minimum of 3 partners). Life projects should provide a level of innovation from TRL 5. Essential for project eligibility is the replicability of the project and the possibility of transferring the application to different sectors. Life projects should also help to create additional investments and contribute to improve additional policies and legislation.

What are green ideas eligible for the LIFE grant?
nature and biodiversity (242 million), including policy and legislation compliance;
circular economy and quality of life (158 million) to facilitate the transition toward a sustainable, circular, toxic-free, energy-efficient/climate-resilient economy and a toxic-free environment;
‑ climate change mitigation and adaptation (99 million), including policy development;
‑ clean energy transition (98 million),including actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the generation and use of renewable energy and improvement of energy efficiency.

Who are they for?
The calls are addressed to Universities, SMEs, research centres, public or private associations.
How much will the funding be?
The facility is a non-repayable contribution between 60% and 75% of the eligible costs based on the priority, theme and type of action chosen. The remaining share may come from the organization's own funds or from grants and sponsorships from other entities.

LIFE includes different type of grants with different deadlines:
Standard Action Projects (SAPs) for circular economy and quality of life, nature and biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation sub-programmes: 4 October 2022
• LIFE Action Grants for clean energy transition sub-programme: 16 November 2022
Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) and Strategic Nature Projects (SNAPs):    
   o Concept notes: 8 September 2022
   o Full proposals: 30 March 2023

How can you apply for?
A low propensity to transform innovative ideas into successful initiatives translates into billions of euros of unspent EU funds and missed opportunities for SMEs, non-profit organizations, universities and public authorities.
Applying for EU funding opportunities requires commitment, vision and strategic attitude. Italbiotec is the ideal partner for developing solutions that transform discoveries tested in labs into demonstration projects up to the market. It helps in consortia building, technical due-diligence, market analysis, economic, social and environmental impacts analyses.
Are you interested in our LIFE track record? Discover the LIFE BIOREST and VITISOM LIFE projects.
Contact us to make your proposal come true!

By Cecilia Ceccherini

How do you Know about the market of alternative proteins?
How big is the alternative protein market? 
May 13, 2022  / Trends in food

They are not just vegetarian options to traditional meat, the alternative protein market includes a wide range of products and ingredients that use different plant proteins, such as soy and peas, new animal sources like insects and biotechnological innovations, such as cultured meat or fungal proteins. We can make meat from plants, by fermentation or cultivation of actual animal cells. These different ways to produce new foods coincide with the three main areas of the alternative proteins market. Market dynamics are being pressed, especially in the most developed countries, due to the growing attention to meat’s impact on health, environment and climate, and animal welfare (McKinsey&Company, 2022).
A trend suggests that the alternative proteins market will be worth roughly 71 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, a growth fueled by last decade’s biotechnologists’ efforts to improve food functionalities and create entirely new types of food.

How many companies are focused on new food and alternative proteins? According to the Good Food Institute (GFI): 88 fermentation companies are focused exclusively or predominantly on alternative proteins, 780+ companies worldwide with a primary focus on plant-based meat, seafood, egg, or dairy and 107 total cultivated meat and seafood industry startups announced by the end of 2021, up 24% from 2020 (Good Food Institute, 2022).

Companies investing in alternative proteins are taking advantage of funding rounds and growing dramatically yearly. To name a few: Future Meat Technologies ended the year with a $347 million funding round in December; Eat Just raised a $200 million funding round in March, followed by a $276 million round completed in September; Aleph Farms raised $100 million. Cultured seafood companies have made significant rounds, with BlueNalu raising $60 million and Finless Foods raising a $34 million Series B. Biomass fermentation company Fynd raised $350 million in a Series C round led by Vision Fund 2.

Alternative proteins offer some of the most game-changing research opportunities with potential for global societal impact-stabilizing the climate and preserving biodiversity while eliminating food’s contribution to pandemic risk and antibiotic resistance. We can reduce the harmful climate impacts of our food system, decrease the risk of zoonotic disease and antibiotic resistance, and feed more people with fewer resources. We can also slow biodiversity loss, reduce air and water pollution, and preserve our oceans.

Consorzio Italbiotec works to support the development of this new biotechnology sector, analyzing business models, developing technologies and products benchmarking and supporting companies in fundraising. Do you want to invest in this field? Do you have an idea and need a guide?
Contact us for a meeting with our experts!

By Cecilia Ceccherini

How green investments drive SMEs growth
How green investments drive SMEs growth  
April 26, 2022 / Driving innovation 

Investing in green innovations is the solution for the recovery and resilience of our economies. With over 1 trillion euros invested in the next decade, Europe aims to accelerate the green transition by ensuring a substantial social-economic impact, especially in those regions with a high intensity of CO2 emissions and substantial fossil dependence.

However, the race towards the green transition looks slower than expected. While Italy waits to receive the first 40 billion euros from Europe, the conflict in Ukraine and raw materials and energy expenditure threaten to increase spending on public procurement and investments. Will this revision lead to a reduction in the scale of expected benefits?

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2021 (EIS), Italy ranks among the EU Member States that experienced the most significant growth in innovation from 2014 to 2021, compared to an average increase of 12.5 percentage points. Innovation measured according to 32 indicators is an interconnected system of investments in academic and vocational education, scientific research at an international level, R&D expenditure of firms and the public sector, employment, SMEs' attitude toward products and business models designed to market needs.

Although Italy ranks according to the EIS among moderate innovators, its innovation performance has grown by 26.1% since 2014, standing out in the European average for circular material use rate (18.8 to 112 EU) and Eco-innovation index (11.7 to 100 EU). A high value of the circularity rate means the substantial introduction into the production system of raw materials recovered from previous operations by replacing the primary ones, avoiding the environmental impacts of extraction (EIS, 2021).

The latest Symbola GreenItaly Report also confirms Italian firms' green performance rates. Despite the inevitable production cuts and readjustments, investments in green solutions did not stop in 2021, mobilizing over 300,000 Italian companies. The uncertainty and instability of consumption have not slowed down the drive towards environmental sustainability even in traditional sectors, with the adoption of circular solutions increasingly present in business choices. Green companies are more resilient: among those who invested in green solutions, 14% increased their turnover in 2021, compared to 9% of non-green companies.

Are you interested in learning more about green performance indicators? Consult the Italbiotec scientific paper Driving Green Investments by Measuring Innovation Impacts published by the Open Access Sustainability journal.

by Ilaria Re

Growing strategic alliances, boosting excellence
Growing strategic alliances, boosting excellence 
April 14, 2022 / Biotech community 

Joins the Italbiotec ecosystem for accelerating your innovation up

The health and economic crisis of Covid19 has led to shocking changes in the employment, production and consumption of our daily life. The appeal to resilience has accelerated investments in diagnostic, therapeutic, digital and biotechnology, marking a central role in the fight against the pandemic and a tipping point for financials. Thousands of venture capital hit a record in conducted funding rounds worth more than 120 billion dollars invested globally in healthcare and biotech start-ups (data Crunchbase).
In Italy, according to Eurostat, R& investments in biotech reached 689.25 million dollars in 2021 and are set to grow to 802.49 million dollars by 2025 (data Statista; Eurostat). Despite this growth, firms' investment and capitalisation gaps are still huge, and building academic and industrial ecosystems is part of the recipe for accelerating market-driven innovation.

Maximising investments in cutting-edge technology, reducing impairment loss, and strengthening research quality is what Italbiotec offers its shareholders.
Do you have an innovative idea and would like to turn it into a product? Are you looking for a strategic partner to develop your business? We support companies, start-ups and researchers in the rapidly expanding biotechnology sector, increasing customer's innovation management performance by providing advice on accessing EU improvement programs and business development, turning ideas into sustainable innovation.

How do we do it? We improve decision-making by increasing the customer’s value proposition, opening new markets and reducing management costs. We offer a wide range of consulting business development services and technological due diligence, helping with the strategic positioning of a new product by analysing the industry, potential customers and brand perception.
We create collaborations between universities and industries to accelerate solutions from the laboratory phase to the market, analysing prospects and leads, success factors and potential obstacles to developing the idea and a business plan. Due diligence is also supported by comparative studies of sustainability and socio-economic impact. Additionally, companies can diversify their business and product range by partnering with innovative start-ups and university research and leveraging their agility to test products prior to their final placement. Over 80 members throughout Italy belong Italbiotec ecosystem mobilising over 10 million investments in research and development every year.

by Cecilia Ceccherini

Fighting greenwashing by LCA solutions
Fighting greenwashing by LCA solutions 
March 23, 2022 / Greenwashing 

Building up customers' trust in your green products by fostering data transparency

Valued at 10.32 billion US dollars in 2020, the global eco-friendly solutions and green technology market is projected to reach 74.64 billion US dollars by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 21.9% 1 . In recent years, Cop21 and UN climate policy agreements have accelerated the green market growth encouraging financial instruments, such as Green Bonds. Obligations issued by supranational financial institutions and big players support various projects with a high environmental sustainability impact, including mobility to waste treatment, eco-friendly building, and water reclamation.
Green Bonds will probably represent the strongest economic vector to ensure the fossil-based energy transition of economic systems. In 2020, around 236 billion euros of Green Bonds were issued in Europe (+ 57% compared to 2018), with Germany, France, and the Netherlands accounting for a third  2  and more recently, the Next Generation EU represents an 800 billion euro green bond destined to achieve the climate neutrality targets by 2050.

Driven by exponential market growth, producers and retailers are racing to implement greener production models, encouraged by a consumer increasingly environmental impacts awareness. However, the tremendous momentum of green tech operators has fueled green marketing and greenwashing, representing the biggest obstacle to sustainable investing according to institutional investors worldwide.
Strategic green marketing is responsible for a false impression of their environmental benefits, penalising companies genuinely committed to greening their products.
The skyrocketing incidence of greenwashing can profoundly affect consumer and investor confidence in green products, calling for greater transparency and reporting of sustainability data. A reliable and standardized method of assessing and quantifying company performance, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an indispensable tool for enhancing and protecting all ecological claims.

Do you want to want to make your products or innovative processes more reliable?
Italbiotec develops specific and tailor-made environmental studies to quantify and understand the environmental impact associated with a product and its process system over the entire lifecycle. Italbiotec provides values on ESG materiality issues, analyzing several indicators such as climate change, water use impacts, human health impacts, and land use.
Italbiotec will also be able to support the evaluation of new development opportunities, such as participation in funded projects, business model development, and industrial scaling up.

by Fabiana Gatto, Ilaria Re

Biotechnology for industrial energy needs
Biotechnology for industrial energy needs 
March 14, 2022 / Energy 

Bioenergy and energy efficiency. How to access PNRR funds supporting the green transition.

The energy shock in 2022 is worth a 37 billion price increase for Italian companies. The effects are visible and drastic: many companies have limited production, slowing it down in the most energy-intensive departments and partially halted production. The solution comes from Biotechnology, which plays a fundamental role in developing sustainable applications to produce renewable energy from biomass.

Bioenergy represents the future of our economy: starting biomass (agricultural or forestry waste) is turned into energy through thermochemical and chemical/biochemical processes. In this way thermal energy, electricity, Syngas, synthetic gas, bioethanol, biogas, biomethane, hydrogen and biodiesel are obtained.
In a perfect idea of circular economy, bioenergy can be directly obtained in the companies and reused, lowering energy costs and contributing to environmental sustainability.

Sustainable development and cutting-edge innovations accelerate concrete business solutions to support energy challenges. Are you looking for financial instruments for your company? Would you like to take advantage of the Recovery Plan funds?
Italbiotec supports your company towards alternative energy solutions based on biotechnology.
Italbiotec develops industrial research projects and advanced consulting services by facilitating access to public funding at regional, national and EU levels. Since its foundation in 1998, Italbiotec has managed projects for over 200 million euros in grants, creating new opportunities for growth and acceleration of their business model.

Italbiotec helps companies with high energy demand exploit PNRR Calls in the energy field.
The M2C2 section-renewable energy, hydrogen, grid and sustainable mobility provides 25.36 billion euros for increasing renewable energy and hydrogen use, investing in agro-voltaic development, and promoting Renewables energy communities and self-consumption, innovative plants, development of bio-methane.
Specifically, these calls provide for the implementation of hybrid energy production-agriculture systems and the development of biomethane obtained from organic residues. It is expected the installation in companies of agro-voltaic plants which would produce about 1,300 GWh per year and a supply of circa biomethate 2.3-2.5 billion cubic meters.

by Cecilia Ceccherini

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