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Centre of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology

Today, Croda International Plc, who create, make and sell innovative, sustainable, high performance speciality chemicals that are relied on by industries and consumers everywhere, are celebrating the official opening of their Center of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology. The centre is based at PEI’s Nautilus Biosciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of Croda.

The ribbon-cutting event held at the Regis and Joan Duffy Research Center at the University of Prince Edward Island, included senior representatives from Croda, as well as the President of UPEI, Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, Provincial Minister of Health and Wellness, Robert Mitchell, and members of PEI’s bioscience business and research community.

The acquisition of Nautilus in Q1 2018 and continued investment by Croda to establish the new Center of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology in PEI will accelerate the company’s research and product development program to identify sustainable, natural sources of functional ingredients for a broad range of personal, health and crop care ingredients for its global customers.

“Croda is a company that values innovation and invests in new technologies to deliver value to our customers today and in the future,” said Sandra Breene, President, Personal Care, Croda International. “The acquisition of Nautilus is part of our journey to expand from being a manufacturer of speciality chemicals into an organisation that embraces biotechnology as the answer to many of our customers and the consumer needs for new actives in a truly sustainable way.”

The opening of the expanded Nautilus facility follows the investment by Croda in an automated high-throughput screening system that can dramatically increase the discovery of novel products derived from the marine microbe library.  Currently Nautilus employs 12 scientists and technicians, including 4 PhD’s and 4 Holland College graduates.

Dr. Russ Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products at UPEI, and founder of Nautilus Biosciences, has worked since 2007 to establish the Marine Microbial Library at UPEI, collecting marine samples from the oceans of Canada and around the world and developing techniques to assess their value as sources of sustainable chemistry. A six-year collaboration with Croda demonstrated to them the potential of marine natural products in providing new chemical entities.

“This is an exciting day for us, “ said Dr. Russ Kerr, Research Fellow, Nautilus Biosciences Canada Inc., part of the Croda group of Companies. “We’ve been very fortunate to build on a relationship with a multinational speciality chemical company that values growth through sustainable innovation –enhancing our ability to discover even more marine microbes as a potential source of commercial ingredients. We are very proud to be opening this Center of Innovation in Marine Biotechnology in Prince Edward Island.”

Nautilus’s partnership with the University of Prince Edward Island, and support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, National Research Council, and the Government of Prince Edward Island has been key to the company’s success.

Nautilus has proven to be one of the successful spinouts from the University of Prince Edward Island, building the university’s reputation as a leading innovation centre in Atlantic Canada.  Nautilus has exclusive access to the Marine Microbial Library which is based at the University.

"To see Dr. Kerr take a great idea, collaborate with other faculty and our students, and develop this idea into an entrepreneurial opportunity like Nautilus Biosciences is so wonderful, and what the University is here to support," said Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island. "Through the hard work of many in our UPEI community -- faculty, staff, and students -- this partnership between Nautilus Biosciences and Croda has become reality. Many thanks to Croda for choosing our campus and Nautilus Biosciences as the location for its Center of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology."

The Nautilus Biosciences Croda Center of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology is an outstanding addition to the PEI Bioscience Cluster and further expands Atlantic Canada’s expertise in ocean technologies. The R&D capabilities and infrastructure that Nautilus Biosciences has established through Croda’s support and investments are also a magnet attracting other businesses to the PEI Bioscience Cluster.

“Croda’s investment in Nautilus is a testament to the quality of the innovation ecosystem in PEI. Our business, research, and government partners work together to help academics and early stage companies commercialize their technologies and attract new investment,” said Rory Francis, Executive Director of the PEI BioAlliance. “This is how we continue to grow this sector and increase its contribution to our provincial economy.”