New process for producing antioxidant wins UCD award

New patented process is more efficient and economical than current process and produces a purer form of the antioxidant than occurs in nature.

Dublin, Ireland, 15 April 2015, An early-stage business idea to commercialise a new patented process of producing Hydroxytyrosol, an effective antioxidant, for use in the food and cosmetics industries, has been declared winner of the 2015 UCD Life Science Innovation Sprint Programme.

The new process can produce this antioxidant more efficiently and more economically than the current process and in a form purer than occurs naturally.

The UCD Life Science Innovation Sprint Programme is a 1-day initiative designed and delivered by UCD’s technology transfer and enterprise development teams at NovaUCD in collaboration with the UCD Earth Institute.

It aims to encourage the development of commercial outputs arising from UCD Life Science research by engaging with UCD researchers at an earlier stage in the commercialisation process.

Dr Reeta Davis UCD

Dr. Reeta Davis, winner of the 2015 UCD Life Science Innovation Sprint Award

Antioxidants are molecules that block the activity of other chemicals known as ‘free radicals’ which are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to human cells leading to many types of cancer, brain and heart diseases.

Some antioxidants are made naturally by the body but others, made synthetically or in nature, can be obtained from external sources, such as in diet and dietary supplements.

Given the increased awareness of the potential health benefits of dietary and antioxidant supplements in disease prevention there has been a significant growth in the last decade in the market for antioxidants used in nutraceuticals, functional foods, food preservatives and cosmetics.

Hydroxytyrosol is a very effective antioxidant with significant commercial potential in the food and cosmetic industries. However the natural extract is not pure and the synthetic version, while pure, is highly priced. High purity is required in industry to allow control of product formulations.

Until now there has been no efficient and economical process to manufacture Hydroxytyrosol with high purity.

The winning business idea which has emerged from the 2015 UCD Life Science Innovation Sprint Programme is based on commercialising a new patented process of synthesising Hydroxytyrosol significantly cheaper than the currently available method and significantly purer than the natural extract.

The promoter of this early-stage business idea is Dr Reeta Davis who is based at the UCD Earth Institute. Dr Davis is a post-doctoral scientist working under the supervision of Professor Kevin O’Connor in the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and UCD Earth Institute.   

Speaking at the presentation of the Award, Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “I would like to congratulate Dr Reeta Davis on winning the 2015 UCD Life Science Innovation Sprint Award. This new process developed here at UCD of producing this antioxidant in a simpler, faster and more economical way than existing methods has the potential of making a significant impact on the antioxidant market for the food and cosmetic industry.”

“Our objective with the Sprint Programmes is to engage with UCD researchers at an earlier stage in the commercialisation process and to use internal and external experts to assist them in understanding and defining more clearly the commercial potential of the outputs emerging from their world-class research activities.”

He added, “Our team at NovaUCD was delighted to have worked again in partnership with the UCD Earth Institute in the design and delivery of this Sprint programme, which is focused on testing new business ideas in an exciting and fun environment.”

For more information please visit UCDInnovation.