Sawubona Mycelium launches beta-glucan-based skincare products

NEO MOLOI The Sawubona Mycelium cofounder is pictured at the Technology Innovation Agency bioprocessing fermentation lab

4th December 2022


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Local biotechnology company Sawubona Mycelium has introduced two beta-glucan-based skincare products, a hydrating serum and an anti-aging serum, under the brand Blu Beryl.

The company manufactures bio-based ingredients and extracts derived from mushroom mycelium for application in the cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage industries.

The first South African company to develop a fermentation technology to produce beta-glucans using micro-organisms for the cosmetics industry, Sawubona Mycelium launched its locally developed fermentation-based skincare products at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Bioprocessing Platform in Umbogintwini, Durban on October 26.

“We are delighted to have reached this milestone in our innovation journey. We have had tremendous support from various partners in the innovation space, particularly from TIA and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in commercialising our products,” said Sawubona Mycelium CEO Busi Moloi at the launch.

The Centurion-based company started its journey to the launch of its product offering in 2018. The technology deployed in the production of these prototypes was developed at the TIA Bioprocessing Platform through financial support from the TIA and the DSI’s Support Programme for Industrial Innovation.

The Blu Beryl skincare products have been tested dermatologically and confirmed to be suitable for use in skincare formulations.

The use of beta-glucans is growing and gaining interest worldwide. Beta-glucans are polysaccharides mainly found in the cell walls of yeast, bacteria, fungi, cereals and oats, and have long been used as supplements for medicinal purposes to support the immune system, lower cholesterol, fight heart disease and control hay fever, among other benefits. They are also known to boost skin health when consumed or applied topically, and can accelerate healing, soothe the skin, reduce inflammation and help transform the skin, explains a joint press release by TIA and Sawubona Mycelium.

“Sawubona Mycelium, a majority black-owned biotechnology start-up, has won several accolades in various innovation competitions. This is testament to the quality of science and the potential for commercialisation through the work TIA does to fund and support innovation start-ups and small, medium and microenterprises,” said TIA bioeconomy executive Dr Vuyisile Phehane.

The support Sawubona Mycelium received from TIA included the facilitation of in-bound technology from Malaysian partners and help securing follow-on funding from life sciences venture capital company OneBio.

“It is envisaged that [this] will support Sawubona Mycelium to break into the lucrative pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals markets, which is directly linked to the ideals of the Bioeconomy Strategy of South Africa,” stated Phenane.

“Through this journey we have also imparted important skills to young graduates who are part of our technical team. We have permanently employed two of them and one has ventured out to start their own business,” added Moloi.



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