Earlier this month, French-headquartered venture capital firm Seventure Partners announced plans to unlock a third wave of microbiome innovation funds in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023, aiming to invest €300 million in more than 20 cutting-edge companies under its Health for Life III fund. Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO of Seventure Partners, said the goal was to continue investment in the innovative and fast-evolving space of the microbiome – across all areas, including skin, oral, vaginal and gut.
“The [microbiome] field has continuously gained momentum, not only in skin care but in all applications. Because, in fact, scientifically, more is being discovered in the microbiome and its role linking the microbiome composition to the immune system of a person, to the general health, and lots of diseases or health conditions,” Cremoux told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
And there was still so much on the horizon for the wider microbiome category, she said, that were areas Seventure Partners and wider industry should be watching closely.
The rise of ‘enabling tech’
Considering the skin microbiome more specifically, Cremoux said there had been a clear rise in use of technology, across topical and oral applications and better understanding the skin microbiome of individuals.
“What we have seen in the last two years is a progress of the enabling technology,” she said, offering “quicker, cheaper and more accurate measurement of microbiome composition”.
Just last month, Seventure Partners had invested in a company innovating in this space, she said – Danish microbiome research firm Clinical Microbiomics A/S, renowned for its pioneering work on clonal-level microbiome profiling and its associated rich dataset.
“They are paving the way for improvement of mapping the bugs, not just bacteria but all living organisms in a sampling, and they have a lot of clients in the skin microbiome, in addition to the gut microbiome,” she said.
For skin care formulators and brands, this level of measurement enabled the tracking of patterns amongst groups, thus offering insight into how to set up clinical trials and product testing, she said.
The personal skin microbiome
Another shift Seventure Partners was looking closely at was the sharper focus on personalisation in the skin microbiome space – beyond groups of people.
“We have seen a lot of devices or tools that, for the moment, are more at luxury or highly-priced skin care brands, where an individual gets its own personal profile or diagnostic done and the adequate products are sold,” Cremoux said.
For many companies, this was an extension of an existing offering but for others it was sometimes a core focus, she said.
Earlier this month, Camilo Cardenas, principal consultant for the consumer sector at UK science and engineering specialist Sagentia Innovation, said genomics, microbiome analysis and biomarker sensing were certainly transforming this space of personalised beauty.
Cardenas said what industry had to do moving forward was capitalise on the increasing amounts of data captured by these technologies, to inform new product development that satisfied consumer needs.
South Korea ‘leaders in the world’
Asked whether there were any markets ahead of the game in skin microbiome innovation in general, Cremoux said South Korea.
“You would not be surprised that I mention South Korea because it’s one of the leading countries globally for skin care in general and it happens that, in the microbiome, not just skin but global microbiome including the gut microbiome, they are also the leaders in the world.”
By comparison, she said advances in the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region had not quite been on the same level.
“I haven’t seen much in Africa for the moment, and in the Middle East it starts, from a consumer expectation perspective and market perspective, but the products are generally not necessarily invested in or produced in the same region. And in Europe, I see a lot of innovation push which is not necessarily sold in those markets,” she said.
Detailing what she believed the future of the global skin microbiome market might look like in the next 3-5 years, Cremoux said: “If I project medium-term, I think that there will be some kind of rethinking between room temperature and fridge, because some of the products will go into your fridge. So, it may be the entry of the fridge in the bathroom – to have even more efficacious and more natural products.
“And the interpretation of digital – digital for selling but also explaining, individualising – I think that’s the future, either by group, patterns or completely individualised.”