Ecomaat is involved in a large-scale scientific research project InnCoCells

Ecomaat started participation in a large-scale scientific research project to develop safe and sustainable plant-based cosmetic ingredients

Project overview

InnCoCells – Innovative high-value cosmetic products from plants and plant cells – is a four-year collaborative research project that aims to revolutionize the way cosmetic ingredients are discovered, manufactured, and developed into validated cosmetic products.

Ecomaat has started its participation in InnCoCells, an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project on the development of safe and sustainable plant-based cosmetic ingredients with scientifically proven effects.

For the next four years, 17 partners representing 11 countries in Europe will be working together to develop sustainable production systems for plant-derived cosmetic ingredients. The research is funded by the European Commission with a budget of €7.9 million and is coordinated by the VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd).

Through a new stakeholder-led approach, involving international scientific organizations, associations, and leaders in the cosmetics industry, the project will answer the questions of whether cosmetic ingredients are suitable for the market and appeal to today’s increasingly quality-conscious and environmentally aware consumers.

“The main goal of the project is to develop sustainable natural cosmetic ingredients from plants using innovative production processes based on plant cell cultures and plants grown in the greenhouse, field, or aeroponic facilities, as well as agricultural waste streams. Plants that are currently in danger of overharvesting will be cultivated in a sustainable and cost-effective manner to ensure that the new ingredients pose no risk to biodiversity or environmental health,” says Dr. Kirsi-Marja Oksman, the coordinator of the project from the VTT.

One of the fundamental principles of the InnCoCells approach is to extensively validate the biological activity of all the ingredients developed in the project, thanks to the participation of partners with a wide range of cell-based assays. Plant extracts and natural products with the most promising activities and environmentally friendly production processes will be advanced to testing in human volunteers. This means that none of the products will be tested on animals, nor will they contain any animal ingredients.

From research to new cosmetic products

By the end of the project, the InnCoCells researchers hope to have addressed seven key objectives.

#1 A number of plant species will be studied to identify at least 10 with relevant metabolic pathways (being careful to observe access and benefit-sharing rules).

#2 An evaluation methodology will be developed to effectively test plants for their natural bioactive ingredients, with the aim of verifying the activity of at least 50 of them.

#3 For at least 20 of them, production processes will be optimized through cell cultures or whole plants grown in greenhouses, in field conditions or through aeroponic systems.

#4 Additional processes will be developed from at least 10 types of agricultural waste, using a cascade approach to produce multiple extracts from the same source for maximum efficiency and value.

#5 and 6 Development of sustainable pilot technologies for production and purification of at least 10 active ingredients, and development of product safety and regulatory dossiers, as well as environmental assessments.

#7 Finally, the knowledge generated by the project will be shared with cosmetic industry stakeholders and end users to support the commercialization of ingredients and the development of new products to meet consumer needs.

In addition to VTT, the project involves 16 other partners representing a mix of academic institutes (universities and research organizations) and SMEs, as well as one large industry partner, a non-profit organization, and a sectorial organization representing the cosmetics industry.

Ecomaat’s participation in the InnCoCells project

As a leading producer of traditional and innovative raw materials for the cosmetics industry, the project partner in Bulgaria is Ecomaat Ltd. Accumulated over the last 20 years since its establishment, the company owns invaluable experience in growing organic certified oil-bearing crops, and the production of organic cosmetic products and nutritional supplements. The company invested in the first and only in Bulgaria extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide and for more than 10 years has been developing unique CO2 plant extracts for the cosmetics industry.

Ecomaat’s commitments in InnCoCells include the development of technologies for growing plants endemic to Bulgaria, which will serve as raw material for further processing in order to obtain plant extracts and isolate potentially interesting ingredients for the cosmetic industry. All activities related to plant cultivation, experimental attempts to optimize the parameters for extraction of valuable molecules, as well as the application of the data obtained during the experiments in a real production scale and industrial production flow, will be carried out by the experienced team of the company in Bulgaria.

“As a result of the cooperation on the project and with the joint efforts of the partner teams in the consortium of leading research institutes from the EU, we expect the development and implementation of new, innovative ingredients for the production of cosmetics that can compete with the world fame of the Bulgarian rose, as well as and the benefits of using Bulgarian rose oil. In addition, we guarantee that these cosmetic ingredients will be used in the production of skin care products that will be offered to consumers in Bulgaria,” said Atanas Kruchmarov – manager of the Ecomaat company.

Ecomaat has substantial experience in organic production in a completely closed production cycle with almost zero waste – from organic farming and the cultivation of vegetable crops in own gardens, through high-tech methods for processing and extraction of essential oils and phyto extracts, to bio cosmetics, completely natural cosmetics top class products. Studying the most valuable plant ingredients, the most gentle and effective methods of their extraction, and their use in quality healthcare products has been the company’s mission since its inception.

Other partners in the project

Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB – Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie), Belgium – learn more >

Institute of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (Еigen vermogen van het instituut voor landbouw- en visserijonderzoek), Belgium – learn more >

National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Аgenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile), Italy – learn more >

Technical University of Darmstadt (Technische Universität Darmstadt), Germany- learn more >

European Organization of Plant Sciences (Europese organisatie voor wetenschappelijk plantenonderzoek e.p.s.o. ivzw), Belgium – learn more >

And others that you will find on

Financing of the project

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement no 101000373. This funding will help to bring the revolutionary InnCoCells approach in cosmetics research to the forefront of the cosmetics industry in Europe.

For further information:

Dr Kirsi-Marja Oksman (, Dr Richard Twyman ( and Atanas Krachmarov (