NutraIngredients Awards class of 2018: ‘Prize was a validation of our technologies’

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Eric Meppem, co-founder and commercial director at Pharmako Biotechnologies (L) shows off the 2018 NutraIngredients' Start-up Award. ©Pharmako Biotechnologies
Eric Meppem, co-founder and commercial director at Pharmako Biotechnologies (L) shows off the 2018 NutraIngredients' Start-up Award. ©Pharmako Biotechnologies

Related tags Awards Pharmako Lipisperse

In May, the NutraIngredients Awards once again hosts the best of industry, recognising innovation leadership and business excellence across Europe.

Since winning the 2018 Start-up Award​, Pharmako Biotechnologies has gone from strength-to-strength, using the award win as a platform to build on the firm’s growth in the nutraceutical sector.

“We were excited to be recognised by the industry’s most prestigious awards,”​ says Eric Meppem, co-founder and commercial director at Pharmako Biotechnologies.

“At that stage we had recently moved into additional “small” premises to expand our manufacturing capability and capacity.

“We had commercialised three different technologies, but their adoption and launch by customers internationally was slower than we had expected,”​ he adds.

“We had run up to twelve human pharmacokinetic studies, many of which were pilot studies, and at that stage no clinical studies.”

Founded in 2015, Pharmako, a firm based in New South Wales in Australia, specialise in making dietary supplement ingredients more efficacious in smaller doses by delivering them efficiently into the body.

One product they’re particularly proud of is Aquacelle, a customisable, self micro-emulsifying delivery system (SMEDS), designed to optimise lipophilic active ingredient bioavailability whilst maintaining product stability.

This product, along with its cold-water dispersion technology LipiSperse that is used to improve curcumin’s ability to dissolve in aqueous environments (HydroCurc), only added to industry recognition in Europe and the US.

International exposure

“Pharmako made a conscious decision to focus on gaining more international exposure for the business and the technologies,”​ explains Meppem.

“As a small Australian company, even with co-founders with contacts around the globe, we recognise the need for assistance in marketing our technologies.”

Meppem goes on to describe the process of entering the NutraIngredients’ Awards as part of an overall plan to market the firm’s ethos and offerings to a wider audience.  

This included a commitment to exhibit more at expos, presenting at conferences as well as pursuing PR / media opportunities.

While this recognition was at the forefront of Pharmako’s business strategy, they never lost sight of ongoing investment in its technology through ongoing scientific trials

“We had entered some awards in 2017, but to be honest, had not achieved as much as we had 12 months later. From both a business and formulation development perspective. The recognition or awards require worthwhile achievements to draw attention to,” ​says Meppem.

“In 2018 we realised that we’d achieved a significant amount within the first few years of our business, and the Start-up Award would reflect those efforts and achievements, and we hoped that the judges would recognise our achievements and plan for the business.”

Knock-on effect

Fast forward to 2020 and Meppem is in no doubt that winning the NutraIngredients Award has played a role in aided Pharmako’s growth.

“Since winning we’ve moved again to even larger premises, expanding our capability and capacity. We have formulations on shelf now all around the world.

“We have also entered the NutraIngredient Asia Awards. Just like the European Awards, the recognition at trade shows, conferences and from trade media has assisted us greatly.

“Asian people particularly “seek out information about the Award winners”, presumably as culturally they strive to align themselves and their businesses with products that are viewed as the best or highest quality.”

Since the success in 2018, Pharmako has since gone on to win the NutraIngredients’ Editor’s Choice for Innovation​ in 2019 with its LipiSperse formulations HydroCurc and Levagen+ gaining recognition and winning awards in their own name.

As serial award winners, Meppem is quick to offer advice for firms thinking about entering future NutraIngredients Award categories.

“In terms of competing in the Awards, just do it! The process is fantastic, it makes you not only reflect on what you’ve achieved, but also on how you achieved it, and where you’re heading.

“Whether you’re a finalist, or a winner, leverage the recognition, and use it to expand your network of customers and collaborators.

“The related trade media coverage from many publications was priceless. It led to new customer enquiries, new business, and even collaborative work with another NutraIngredients Award winner (we met them during the Awards Dinner in Geneva!).

“Internally, the Award meant our staff and network of industry supporters felt our technologies and formulations were validated by a respected third party. This gave everyone a renewed sense of confidence.”

Need to know more?

NI Awards pic

With the deadline for applications to the NutraIngredients Awards extended to Friday 7th February 2020​, it's vital that you get your applications in soon. 

But which award should you apply for, what are the key criteria for the categories, and what do the judges look for in a great entry? Our helpful video guide to the awards, and our top tips from the judges will ensure you know exactly what to enter for, and how to make your entry stand out!

Check out our ​​video guide​​ ​to make sure you know all of the categories and criteria.

While these top tips and hints​ from the judges​​ will certainly help to improve your application.

Please see the NutraIngredients Awards website​ for further details.

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