Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics

The pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries have a continuous focus on developing new concepts and products. Biobased products and components have specific functionalities and features that offer a range of interesting possibilities to these industries.

The pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries function within specialised markets which focus on high-quality products. The legal protection of data, quality and safety is central to the development of innovative new products. Biobased products & components and manufacturing processes (on a microbial and enzymatic basis, for example) offer interesting opportunities for these markets. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has extensive experience in the development of biobased products and in the separation techniques, fermentation technology, biocatalysts and new functional ingredients which are necessary for the production process in both the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.


Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers a variety of technologies and research facilities that can be used for developments in the field of pharmaceuticals. For instance, we can produce ingredients of non-animal origin, develop alternative formulations or replace synthesis based on petrochemical raw materials by catalytic, microbial or enzymatic synthesis.
We have at our disposal a wide range of analytical equipment and technologies:

  • controlled release technology / (micro) encapsulation
  • extrusion for the purpose of mixing and extracting ingredients
  • separation technology
  • screening and selection of production organisms 
  • fermentation technology for the synthesis of biopharmaceuticals and other ingredients 
  • development of biocatalysts for the purpose of producing chiral compounds, building blocks and end products.


Together with the cosmetic industry, we create innovative ingredients and products which are based on natural raw materials. In doing so we leverage on our knowledge of antioxidants, surfactants, emulsifiers, thickeners and dyes. The wide range of technologies used in our laboratories include:

  • innovative separation methods for natural raw materials such as vegetable oils, proteins and fragrances which ensure higher returns
  • controlled release systems to improve the operation of active and/or volatile components 
  • production of existing or new functional ingredients by means of enzymes or microorganisms (e.g., collagen-like compounds or active ingredients to counteract the appearance of aging).

Packaging is an important element in cosmetics. Here, too, biobased products offer interesting possibilities, such as biodegradable and biobased packaging, or packaging with a built-in feature that extends the shelf life of products.