Innovations in Lonza Specialty Ingredients (LSI)

Our Microbial Control Solutions businesses are addressing a wide range of consumer-oriented and industrial markets, as well as wood applications and agricultural offerings along a common microbial control platform. The innovation focus is on smart microbial control solutions for resource protection and a consumer-centric healthy environment, anticipating the evolving needs of each marketplace. There is also an increasing focus on challenging regulatory requirements that carry both risks and opportunities for competitive differentiation. Furthermore, our Specialty Chemical Services teams are constantly striving to develop new technologies to make our production processes more sustainable and offer attractive solutions to our customers’ demands (e.g. CDMO service or unique composites products).

Regulatory Stewardship

The changing regulatory landscape is impacted by multiple factors. Chemical regulations are becoming more stringent and increasing in number, complexity and enforcements. Due to the heavily regulated nature of the microbial control platform, the choice of chemicals available is shrinking while the need for new and established products continues to expand.

These challenges offer us opportunities to differentiate by using our extensive scientific and regulatory knowledge. This year, our deep understanding and expertise has enabled us to successfully move our DDAC and ADBAC disinfectant compounds past a major regulatory hurdle of the European Biocidal Products Regulation. Our leading position in Microbial Control Regulatory enables us to address and meet market challenges and offer solutions, which protect our customers’ brands. This includes stepping up our specific education activities about the importance of disinfection in the fight against COVID-19, while keeping essential industries open more generally.

Microbial Control Solutions has also leveraged its expertise in hygiene via the addition of 16 products to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of substances that have been proved in testing to kill the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, on hard surfaces with both dilutable concentrates and formulations for disinfectant wipes. This is by far the largest number of approvals recently added to the EPA COVID-19 list and is indicative of the complex multi-faceted process of product testing and regulatory activity that keeps us at the forefront of claims generation.

Hand hygiene products provide a frontline defense against COVID-19 in daily life. The Microbial Control Solutions team has leveraged its regulatory toxicology expertise by leading the industry to sustain both Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride as viable actives for Topical Antiseptic over-the-counter (OTC) drug applications in the US.

Academic Collaborations

In the last three years, we have established collaborations with academic institutions that can help us further develop and maintain our leading position in microbial control. We collaborate with the University of Sofia (BG) - a world renowned school in colloid science and formulation, Sheffield University (UK) - a leading research center for bacterial adhesion and biofilm, Manchester University (UK) - with world class Physical and Microbiology departments and Oxford University (UK).

Whilst working to gain deeper insight into how biocides interact with other ingredients in the formulations, we discovered a unique phenomenon in 2020. We noted an interplay between hydrodynamic and colloidal forces, more specifically the vortex in thin liquid film. Such a phenomenon has never been observed before; it acts as an indicative measure of the quality of research we are involved in. The findings were recently published in one of the leading journals in the field, the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 576 (2020) 345–355.

In collaboration with Manchester University’s School of Biological Sciences and School of Physics and Astronomy, we have been awarded a three-year grant (2019-22) from Innovate UK, a non-governmental public body operating as part of the UK Research and Innovation organization. With this support, we are working on combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through developing a better understanding of the interaction between microorganism and biocide and enabling market expansion through sales growth from active ingredients and formulated products.

Start-up Funding

In early 2018, we launched an exclusive Venture Capital Fund in partnership with Prolog Ventures to invest in potentially game-changing, infection control-centric start-ups focused on North America.

The Prolog Lonza Fund offers value by providing early-stage, high-growth companies with access to our global resources and expertise. In return, we can gain insights into innovative business models and technologies, evolving disinfection trends and changing demands as well as new solutions enabling efficient infection control in hospitals and beyond. By tapping into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we aim to expand our future business growth opportunities.

In 2020, the Prolog Lonza Fund invested in Kinnos, a start-up company producing a colorizing additive for disinfectants used in hospital cleaning protocols. Hygiene compliance tools - like coloring disinfected surfaces - increasingly raise interest to improve infection control measures and to ensure public safety.

In addition, the Prolog Lonza Fund invested in CleanSlate UV, a start-up company focusing on UV light technology for disinfection of devices including mobile phones. This technology raised special interest during the COVID-19 pandemic and sheds light on growing market opportunities in the healthcare environment, beyond traditional chemistry.

New Technologies

Innovation is a key component of our Specialty Chemical Services business. Within Custom Development & Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) business, we are constantly supporting innovation at our customers’ end, by offering background intellectual property and flexible assets, and by involving highly skilled, experienced and scientifically-trained teams.

In this context, we have most recently developed two highly innovative technologies to improve sustainability in two different chemical reactions:

  • In 2020, we patented a copper free coupling reaction. As well as being used as catalysts and reactants in organic chemical reactions, Copper(I) salts also exhibit biocidal activity and can be very toxic to aquatic life. This means that if they are used in a chemical process, the effluent requires special treatment to remove the copper before it reaches a wastewater treatment plant. Our new copper free coupling reaction, achieves both higher yields and selectivity by minimizing the formation of side products linked to competing side reactions triggered by copper ions. The process can also be used for similar coupling reactions with different starting materials and does not require any special equipment.
  • Fluorine substituents have a determining influence in the biological activity of active ingredients as well as inherent docking properties in enzymes. These properties are crucial in the development of many new active ingredients and active pharmaceutical ingredients containing fluorine substituents. However, the industrial manufacturing of these products poses many hurdles connected to the introduction of the fluorine substituent. One important class of these products contains fluoroalkyl groups, the introduction of which has been a subject of intense academic research, although none are applicable to industrial processes as some of the required reagents would generate significantly more waste and increase costs. In collaboration with LIKAT (the Leibniz Institute of Catalysis in Rostock) (DE), we have developed four catalytic protocols which have solved many industrially associated problems arising from fluoro-alkylation reactions. In several examples, the waste levels can be reduced by more than 90%. Fluoroalkyl groups can also be introduced to advanced intermediates, avoiding the need to use fluorinated intermediates at the beginning of the chemical route. The catalysts used can be reused several times before losing their activity.