- Producing competitive new products
- Accessing new markets
- Industrial marketing and sales strategy
- Project implementation resources
- Water soluble and biodegradable thermoplastic pellets made of milk protein
- An alternative to oil-based products
- Environmentally efficient and sustainable
Lactips began business by assessing the feasibility of setting-up a new recycling industry for milk that is unfit for human consumption. The main challenge the company faced was how to introduce new products into the marketplace. To address this challenge, the company defined three important objectives:
- Propose a high degree of innovation to help clients become more competitive and access new markets;
- Provide a clean industrial product that is completely biodegradable and is safer for consumers and the environment;
- Provide a viable greener alternative to oil-based plastic materials to reduce their negative impact on the environment (pollution, waste).
Lactips is founded on three key pillars: innovation, social impact and ecology. The material the company uses is the only thermoplastic and clean biomaterial (biosourced and biodegradable) worldwide which is able to make films that are water soluble at room temperature.
The packaging industry is the main target market for soluble films as they are ideal for single doses of dry materials such as: detergents in single doses for washing machines and dishwashers; detergent for water treatment in swimming pools; agrochemicals that are added to water before being sprayed on crops. Once in contact with water, the films are completely soluble and biodegradable.
The material could also be used in the food and pharmaceutical industries if edible casein is used. The material is also printable. These kinds of properties are some examples of its potential, in terms of new product and market development.
Lactips is a growing company that began life as a research project at the Jean Monnet University of Saint-Etienne. Its technology is a breakthrough innovation and the company is a pioneer in its field. Integration of the product into the plastics processing industry value chain was relatively straightforward and has enabled Lactips to create a new economy based around the newly patented raw material.
However, the company needed financial support in order to accelerate its ideas and to reach the market faster. To help with its project investment and recruitment activities, Lactips received funding of EUR 1.5 million from the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument phase 2. A training programme enabled the company to benefit from the support of an expert in trade and marketing strategies applied to the main target market (detergents). The Lactips stocks were directed in order to conquer markets and thus make turnover.
Lactips developed its innovative products over a three-year period (2014-2017) and first launched them onto the market in 2017. In the nine months since the product launch, Lactips has set up a production unit of a capacity of EUR 10 million. Currently, Lactips has 27 research and development staff and a sales team of three people.
A key feature of Lactips’ growth strategy is to continue developing products that can be applied in as many sectors as possible in order to diversify their product offering, grow their brand and customer base, and increase turnover. By 2020, Lactips aims to achieve a sales growth of EUR 20 million.
Results and Benefits
Based on milk protein, the thermoplastic pellets produced by Lactips display a wide variety of technical properties – for example, they are water soluble, edible and biodegradable – that can benefit consumers in many sectors. The products are not just innovative, they also offer consumers a cleaner and safer alternative to oil-based packaging. The bioplastic film is totally biodegradable and can be used as home compost. For their primary markets, such as the detergent industry, Lactips produces bio-based plastics which feature excellent gas barrier properties and bio plastic pellets which can be transformed into water soluble film for single dose packaging. Strong sales growth has enabled the company to develop products for other markets. For example, Lactips produces a revolutionary edible plastic based on milk protein which is enabling the development of new applications for the food industry. Lactips produces active packaging (e.g. for food products) which feature properties that improve food preservation and have health benefits.
Trophy of Start-up by Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region on GreenTech category, 2017