Catholic University in Porto paves the way for the construction of a Portuguese cosmetic manufacturing plant

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The way may be paved for the construction of a cosmetic manufacturing plant in Porto, and along with it the creation of circa 200 qualified jobs, says Amyris Inc CEO John Melo. The project is called Alchemy and is placing Porto among the most innovative cities in Europe. The Alchemy project is a collaboration between the Faculty of Biotecnhology of the Portuguese Catholic University and Amyris Bio Products Portugal.

The city of Porto is well positioned as fertile ground to recruit and retain skilled, tech-saavy and capable employees and this is the reason why the delegation that visited the Biotechnology and Fine Chemicals Centre at the Catholic University in Porto, on Tuesday 20th April, included not only Amyris Inc. CEO John Melo, but also Mayor of Porto Rui Moreira, Isabel Braga da Cruz, President of the Regional Centre of Catholic University in Porto, João Pinto, vice-President of the Regional Centre of Catholic University in Porto, Paula Castro, Director of the Faculty of Biotecnhology of Portuguese Catholic University, Manuela Pintado, Director of the Biotechnology and Fine Chemicals Centre, Filipe Araújo, vice-Mayor of Porto City Hall and Miguel Barbosa, President of Amyris BioProducts Portugal.

The five storey building of the Faculty of Biotecnhology, with a total surface area over 9 000 square metres, forms the heart of the production unit at the Biotechnology and Fine Chemicals Centre (CBQF), with over 90 labs and classrooms. This is where the CBQF and Amyris Bio Products Portugal, a subsidiary of Amyris Inc. of the United States of America develop the Alchemy project, which “was implemented in 2018 with the main goal of studying and developing new applications for Amyris’ by-products/waste from fermentation processes and sugar cane production, boosting the discovery of new molecules of large commercial interest, with special focus on the cosmetic industry”, affirms Catholic University in Porto in a news release.

During the visit to the lab, Amyris Inc. Executive Director voiced plans to scale the business going forward: “I am ready to continue to invest and cooperate with the Catholic University”, asserted John Melo.

Currently, the company’s plant operates in the United States, but in a statement to Lusa, de Melo confirms that “it is obvious that we must produce in Europe, in this case in Portugal, to export to the rest of Europe, Russia and Saudi Arabia”, adding that “we must take a swift decision because there is demand”.

Thus far, this collaboration project between the company and the University, which was established in 2016, has already made it possible to hire another 80 researchers, who are working on the potential of vegetable biosilica extracted from sugarcane and to be applied in the cosmetic industry.

“This collaboration rooted and I think that from now on, the knowledge generated by the researchers and the team, jointly with the United States, has been the greatest fertilizer that keeps that plant growing. We believe that this collaboration will bring economic turnover, sustainable growth and boost the opportunities that this research will bring to Portugal and to the world”, highlighted Manuela Pintado, Director of the Centre of Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry during the visit.

The Alchemy project, which is funded by Portugal 2020 and by the FEDER programme, stems form a partnership between the Portuguese Catholic University, Amyris Bio Products Portugal and the Business Development Agency (AICEP).