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Since its founding in 1987, the biotechnology department located at MANE’s head office has been a cornerstone of the Group’s capacity for innovation and approach to naturalness.

A research laboratory full of computers, microscopes, and lab benches, etc. A production unit complete with centrifuges and fermentation tanks, etc. Located on the Notre-Dame site in Le Bar-sur-Loup, MANE’s biotechnology department is a central hub for research, production of natural aromatic molecules. Its purpose is producing aromatic molecules that exist in nature through a fermentation process in the laboratory using biological means such as enzymes and microorganisms.

Naturalness and minimising environmental impact

The benefits are twofold: on one hand, the use of fermentation makes it possible to offer natural molecules, meeting the growing demand from consumers and manufacturers alike. On the other, this approach produces molecules in a more responsible and sustainable way by favouring low-impact production methods, consuming less energy, without the need for any chemical solvent. Clearly, biotechnologies offer multiple pathways for reducing environmental impact.

“The molecules produced are mostly used in flavourings and thus intended for the food industry,” explains Fanny Lambert, head of MANE's Biotechnology Department. “We have a specific focus on creamy notes, fruits such as yellow fruits (peach, apricot, pineapple), and even vanilla. And we favour key molecules, always taking market demand into account.” The laboratory has produced several of MANE’s proprietary molecules and has developed molecules for use in perfumery, such as tropicalone, a lactone derived from bioconversion that evokes exotic fruits.

Modelled after living things

Research is at the very heart of the department’s activities. It all starts with the identification of notable odorous molecules found in nature, together with observing living organisms to better understand how these molecules are catalysed within cells. The next step is identifying the microorganism capable of best synthesising this molecule. The team then seeks out solutions to activate the synthesis process and improve it. Scalability—meaning the ability to scale up from the pilot phase into industrial production without compromising quality—is a fundamental issue for the department that is reflected in its three subdivisions:

  • The research laboratory
  • The pilot laboratory, which tests small-scale projects
  • The production workshop.

A department rooted in innovation

“We are a versatile, innovative and passionate team of experts,” Fanny Lambert explains. The team, comprised of twelve employees, includes specialists in genetics, fermentation processes and their improvement, the application and scaling up of processes, and even people in charge of production itself. “We all come equipped with expertise deeply rooted in experience but are still guided by our curiosity,” Fanny Lambert points out. This sense of curiosity is reflected in the evolution of the department and the way it approaches innovation.

Biotechnology as a whole has evolved in leaps and bounds over recent years, particularly in terms of our knowledge of the genome and enzymatic reactions inside cells, along with genome editing processes that are now providing a better understanding of the mechanisms and development of precision fermentation processes. We are making the most of these advances to study how they can improve our processes, always with the goal of producing aromatic molecules of exceptional quality—while, of course, still complying with the various regulations on naturalness and safety,” Fanny Lambert explains.

A culture of partnership and collaboration

This capacity for innovation relies on an ecosystem of collaboration and partnerships that complement and reinforce the skills of the department. The department has thus forged external links with the academic world, public-private laboratories (CNRS, INRA) and start-ups, but also with industrial partners for production needs. In this way, advances in academic research allow our teams to identify the aromatic molecules of interest as well as the pathways used by living organisms to produce them.

Internally, the department collaborates with both strategic development, chemists, flavour specialists and the digital factory to develop tools that meet the needs of the department including the production unit. "We will certainly be called upon to collaborate more and more regularly with perfumers as naturalness gradually makes its way into the world of perfumery and cosmetics,” notes Fanny Lambert. “The great strength of our department is that we reproduce nature. We capitalise on its innate capacity for adaptation and innovation to create natural, high-quality molecules.”