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Innovation & independence are crucial for Silab.

The cosmetic active ingredient supplier celebrates the inauguration of its R&D Center and looks ahead to continued double-digit growth.

* Highly innovative and fiercely independent are just a few words that describe Silab, a leading active ingredient supplier to the cosmetics industry. At a recent visit to the company's research and development facility in Brive, France, Thierry Cruchon, the company's general manager, provided details on how a 30 million [euro] supplier can compete successfully against multinationals with multibillion dollars in sales.

It all starts with a strong commitment to the research and development process, according to Mr. Cruchon, who proudly noted that a third of the company's employees are devoted to the R&D process. That percentage has held steady since Silab was founded in 1984 by Jean Paufique, who remains chairman of the company. Moreover, the company devotes 25% of its turnover to R&D efforts.

Both of these long-term commitments have enabled Silab to garner 90 patents and become a leader in the cosmetics actives category.

"We specialize in actives and nothing else," explained Mr. Cruchon. "We produce and develop 100% of our products. It enables us to control the entire process."


A New R&D Facility

In June, the company gave the press and guests a tour of its new research and development center in Brive, France. The 3,500-square-meter facility will enable Silab to double its research potential in the years ahead through the acquisition of new technologies for evaluation, analysis and technological development. At the same time, the company is nearly fanatical about quality, collecting 10 million data points each month at its two production units.

"Our production processes are very traceable," observed Mr. Cruchon, who noted that the company has 13 employees in quality assurance. "We conduct every test internally, but we also partner with public research groups, such as the CNRS (National Scientific Research Center), as well as universities."

A Wide Range of Products

That commitment to R&D and QA has enabled Silab to develop a wide range of cosmetic active ingredients including materials for anti-oily skin, anti-wrinkle, exfoliant, eye contour, firming, moisturizing, free-radical scavenging and slimming products. Each year, the company introduces six new products.

Three of the newest products include Osilift Bio, Structurine Bio and Vitanol Bio. All three materials are certiffed organic by Ecocert. Osilift Bio is a purfied fraction of natural polyoses from organic oats. It enables formulators to create skin care products that firm, tone and smooth the skin. And since it is a non-charged saccharide molecule, it is fully soluble in aqueous media.

Structurine Bio, obtained from sweet white lupin, is a restructuring agent that reinforces the barrier function of the skin and limits water loss. According to Silab, it improves the synthesis of structural proteins and epidermal lipids.

Finally, Vitanol Bio is rich in galactomannans of alfalfa. It protects and repairs the dermis by stimulating the synthesis of collagen I and by inhibiting the activity of metalloproteinases responsible for its destruction. It is said to provide an immediate and long-lasting tensor effect on skin.

"Years ago, formulators only needed one active material for their anti-aging products," explained Brigitte Closs-Gonthier, research and development manager. "More and more clients want anti-aging ingredients that target wrinkles or provide a firming effect."

According to Ms. Closs-Gonthier, the wrinkles that appear at 40 years of age are different than those that appear at 60--they are the result of different biology.

"We have technology to regulate the physiology of the skin, not modify it," she added.

A Worthy Cause

Although the Silab team is committed to developing the skin care ingredients of the future, the company is just as determined to support research in the field of dermatology. Last year, Silab created the Jean Paufique Corporate Foundation to support fundamental research and applied research in the fields of diagnostics, prognosis and the treatment of dermatologic pathologies (especially skin cancer) and to foster young talent. The foundation awards an annual grant of 50,000 [euro] for research in these areas.

In April, the foundation awarded Juan Garcia Valero of Spain with the first grant for his work entitled, "Apoptosis et Oncogenesis." His project seeks to gain a better understanding of how proteins in the Bcl-2 family work and to identify the determinants responsible for their localization in the mitochondrial membranes.

In other news, Silab recently introduced its Corporate Social Responsibility charter, which outlines the company's plan for sustainable growth.

"We haven't forgotten the environment," explained Mr. Cruchon. "But a company can't rely only on words. We have developed an action plan."

Silab executives insist that the CSR gives them a framework to continue to improve.

"It's a process without an end," explained Anne Paufique, head of communication. "We are always looking to make improvements."

The company also has an aggressive growth plan that includes annual sales growth of 15%, staff expansion and conformation to cosmetic GMPs by 2009. Next year the company will celebrate its 25th anniversary and bring a third production unit online.

"Continuous improvement has always been a key element of Silab's activities," concluded Mr. Cruchon. "It gives us a competitive advantage and enables us to be a preferred supplier to our customers."
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Title Annotation:Industry News
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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