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  • We Are UMi

Nominee Q&A - TeeGene Biotech and TARA Biologics

TARA Biologics is an innovative biotechnology company working to revolutionise industrial manufacturing and biotherapeutics by replacing the commonly used synthetic surfactants with natural biosurfactants. The implication of this alternative method presents consumers and businesses with a safer, more efficient and environmentally positive option. Here, Dr Pattanathu Rahman, Executive Director of TARA Biologics and its parent company TeeGene Biotech, tells us more.

Tell us a bit about your business?

TARA Biologics is a biotechnology company that focuses on discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering biotherapeutics for infections like Covid-19.

The company was founded in 2020 from its parent company TeeGene, which is a pioneering biosurfactants company headquartered in London.

Synthetic surfactants are commonly used in everyday cleaning, cosmetics and food products. Our aim is to competitively market biosurfactants as an alternative for companies manufacturing everyday products.

What is the ethos behind the company and has this changed or developed since you started?

TARA’s mission is to discover, develop and commercialise natural compounds for agriculture, food, environment and biomedical applications. Our vision is to find replacements for synthetics using nature’s solutions.

We are also committed to educating consumers about what biosurfactants are and why they are such a great option for everyone. All while supplying the best-quality biosurfactant we can.

What’s the business’s USP?

TARA produces biosurfactants with the ability to replace harmful petroleum-based surfactants used in everyday products.

Surfactants are the main active ingredient in most cleaning products and help to "wet" the surface and emulsify oils and fats. Most surfactants used in products are typically petroleum based and can cause skin irritation and allergies. Biosurfactants are derived from biotechnology and are produced by living cells such as bacteria with antimicrobial properties.

Biosurfactants are biodegradable, non-toxic and organic, making them considerably better for the environment than petrosurfactants. These natural alternatives have the potential to replace traditional surfactants in many everyday products including cosmetics, household products and fast-food.

What investment have you sourced for the business and how has this helped you to go further?

The feasibility study of TeeGene’s (TARA Biologics parent company) bioprocess development was supported by Bio Base NWE Innovation Coupon Scheme, with a maximum value of €30,000.

In addition, the voucher has supported scale-up work undertaken at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP), an independent, flexible, state-of–the-art demonstration facility in Belgium, to validate innovative biobased technologies and scale them up to an industrial level.

We were one of 27 SMEs which received financial support through the project to conduct feasibility studies and scale-up trials at the Belgian plant. The biosurfactant scale-up work was very successful and made us confident that we can manufacture biosurfactants at an industrial level.

We are now looking into the possibility of building our own pilot line. We are in the process of sending samples to the interested industrial customers but needed the grant to get the technologies developed in pilot scale. We have also completed Techno-economic Evaluation at Centre for Process and Innovation (CPI-UK).

What is the most important thing to remember when applying for funding/investment?

Make sure you have the right estimations for the investment you need, the opportunity and market segment, demographics, market share and competitor’s details all ready to be shared with the funder or investor. A good business plan and financial projections or a business deck are also crucial.

Go Further celebrates organisations with the ‘foresight to inform and respond to the changing world around them’. How does your organisation fulfil this?

Our company targets the replacement of traditional synthetic surfactants and emulsifiers in cosmetics, soap formulations, healthcare, paints, household detergents, industrial and institutional cleaning, personal care, crop protection, oilfield, coatings, textile, construction, food, leather, mine and mineral processing, pulp & paper and food processing industries.

These biosurfactants have anti-microbial and anti-aging properties suitable for cosmetic products and biotherapeutics.

A rapid advance in biotechnology and increased environmental awareness among consumers has resulted in a rapid growth of biological surfactants as alternatives to existing products.

EU Surfactant Directive supports the use of biodegradable surfactants in industrial cleaning products, meaning there would not be any political or legal restrictions on the use of biosurfactants.

According to Markets and Markets report estimations - the global biosurfactants market is $4.2bn in 2017 and is projected to reach $5.52bn by 2022, with a combined annual growth rate of about 5.6%.

What has been your company’s greatest achievement?

We were one of the named SMEs in the newly formed Centre for Enzyme Innovation (University of Portsmouth). We also led the deploy phase of the multi-million-pound E3 proposal, which includes scale-up of the bioprocesses at the newly formed Centre of Enzyme Innovation (CEI).

CEI at University of Portsmouth - our consortium - have been awarded £5.8m through the government's modern industrial strategy. The funding allowed the appointment of a PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow and a Research Technician at the University of Portsmouth's CEI.

What is your business’s short and long-term plans?

Our short-term aim is to secure our first commercial contract. We will develop biosurfactant formulas for cosmetics and specialty applications in the agriculture sector. We will also remain a business-to-business ingredient supplier.

We also plan to expand the range of products we can supply by sourcing and producing different species of bacteria, fungi and yeast to give distinct products specific benefits. We will produce biosurfactant formulation samples onsite for customers and subsequently sell the IP.

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