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Good fruits of knowledge

Natura wants research projects for application in cosmetics

On March 20, Natura (a Brazilian cosmetics industry) launched a research incentive program with the purpose of encouraging the formation of competence in science and technology, applied to cosmetics and phytotherapeutics. The program – baptized as Natura Campus – will be developed by means of partnerships with foundations that foster research, university laboratories and institutes from São Paulo.

“We want to draw closer to the universities in a structured way and to collaborate to transform knowledge into innovation”, said Pedro Luiz Passos, who presides the Operations area of the company, the largest maker of cosmetics in Latin America. The first call for applications from Natura Campus will have Brazilian biodiversity as its theme, and it will be implemented in partnership with FAPESP. Researchers who are interested have until May 20 to present a preproposal, using a form available on the website at Natura’s team of researchers and technicians will be doing a first assessment of the proposals using criteria laid down by the company.

It will be obligatory for the projects to involve research into assets of plant origin from Brazilian biodiversity, with a potential for application in cosmetic products. The chosen projects will be submitted to the assessment of FAPESP, in the ambit of the Partnership for Technological Innovation (PITE) program.

Started in 1994, PITE supports projects for technological innovation developed in partnership by research institutions and companies in the state. FAPESP and the companies split the costs of the project. According to FAPESP’s scientific director, José Fernando Perez, there are 66 projects under way, with total investments of R$ 70 million. “This is a program in which the Foundation plays a role of a catalyzing agent between universities and companies”, Perez explains. “Scientific production cannot grow without social and economic fruits”, adds Carlos Vogt, the Foundation’s president.

Sustainable extraction
The results of the first assessment will be made public on June 20. The preprojects approved should be presented to FAPESP by August 20, to be judged by December 20. Natura invests some R$ 30 million a year in research and development, registering an average of 100 new products launched a year. The investigations into biodiversity assets take up 15% of these resources and provide support for the Natura Ekos line. The formulas of 37 products available on the market use such assets as guarana, macela, cupuassu, cacao, pitanga, passion fruit and Brazil nut, among others, the properties of which are widely broadcast by popular knowledge and corroborated by ethnobotanical and pharmacological studies.

To guarantee that this asset from Brazilian flora is extracted in a sustainable way, Natura runs the Assets Certification Program with its suppliers, supported and monitored by a nongovernmental organization called Imaflora. The program comprises six stages: auditing the place of origin of the assets, drawing up a plan for handling, assessing the environmental and social impact, implanting the plan for handling, getting the certificate, and periodical monitoring. “Natura’s other product lines, like the cosmetics line, for example, should, in the course of time, also be using technology arising from biodiversity”, reveals Marcelo Araujo, the vice-president for Innovation and Development.