A common passion for innovation led brothers Christophe and Frédéric Arnaud to set up a family business and develop a breakthrough emulsion technology to create low-fat ingredients.
With support from the Enterprise Europe Network, Emulsar, founded in 2004, will expand into a new sector and create ingredients for Oral Nutritional Supplements aiming at tackling malnutrition.
Christophe, a research engineer and CEO of Emulsar, was working for a French cosmetics brand when he thought of using nanotechnology to produce better emulsions – commonly used in cosmetics. Realising this technology could prove useful in other industries too, he left his job to work solely on furthering a new business idea.
Once he created his Smart-Emulsion Technology©, which allows to reduce fat in ingredients without changing food’s taste and texture, he called on his brother, a businessman, to join him and create Emulsar.
The company first catered for the mass market by developing Light Oil©, a thin oil which is used in mayonnaise and other dressings, allowing to reduce up to 80 % of the product’s fat.
"We realised that innovation is not always valued in the mass market industry, so we strived to find a new sector within the food industry where our technology could have greater impact. Medical food requires scientific proof of efficiency, so we thought this is where our technology could be valued," said Frédéric Arnaud, Emulsar’s COO.
Disease-related malnutrition affects 33 million Europeans. Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS), like milkshakes or puddings, are traditionally used to meet patients’ nutritional deficiencies during illness. But about 50 % of ONS are not consumed due to their poor taste and texture – leaving many patients in hospitals or care homes malnourished.
To help tackle this challenge, Emulsar needed funding and a new business strategy. Frédéric and Christophe turned to their local Enterprise Europe Network member, CCI Paris Île-de-France, for advice.
The Enterprise Europe Network is the world's largest support network for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with international ambitions. The Network member helped Emulsar apply for the EU’s SME Instrument programme. "We reviewed the funding proposal providing tips, advice and giving general comments aimed at improving the applications for Phase 1 and 2, and met the European Commission’s expectations," said Justine Bounet, from CCI Paris Île-de-France.
The SME Instrument is the EU research and innovation programme helping innovative small firms with high growth potential.
For Emulsar, the network acted as a useful hub. "It’s where we head to for information. When the SME Instrument was launched it was quite hard to understand all its ramifications. Justine Bounet was able to get more information from the European Commission and this was really helpful to help us understand EU funding streams," said Frédéric.
A brainstorming session was also organised to perfect Emulsar’s funding proposals.
As a result, Emulsar was awarded EUR 50 000 in Phase 1 and EUR 1.7 million during Phase 2, allowing them to continue developing a disruptive ingredient, Protein Plus©, for ONS manufacturers.
The new product, developed using Smart-Emulsion Nanotechnology©, aims to help overcome the industry’s main challenge, which is currently unable to increase ONS’ protein density while effectively reducing volume. Protein Plus© is expected to do just that: help improve ONS’ nutritional value and taste while reducing the quantity of ONS a patient needs to consume.
Emulsar is currently working towards optimising Protein Plus© ingredients, establishing scientific proof of improved ONS compliance and preparing its market launch eyeing four major medical food companies with a global presence.