CBH team receives prize for environmentally friendly sanitary products
Stora ingenjörspriset 2022
Antonio Capezza, a postdoc researcher at the Division of Polymeric Materials at CBH, has, together with his team at start-up SaniSOLE, won Stora Ingenjörspriset Innovation sponsored by Vattenfall. The team consists of Björn Birdsong, Mercedes Bettelli and Richard Olsson. Using biopolymers extracted from agricultural biomass, they want to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable sanitary pads, a product currently produced using fossil-based resources.
“With the help of industrious work, they have realized a product that has great potential to make it possible for many people to reduce their climate footprint and use an environmentally friendly and circular product, yet remaining quality." This was the jury's motivation at Vattenfall when Antonio Capezza and the start-up SaniSOLE team received the Stora ingenjörspriset 2022.
“The idea behind SaniSOLE is to use biopolymers from biomass to produce safe, single-use, disposable, absorbent articles, for example sanitary pads. If produced with the proposed technology, we can make the articles biodegradable, micro-plastic free, and environmentally friendly,” says Antonio Capezza.
“We are an alternative for those who cannot use current ecological alternatives to absorbent articles, such as menstruation cups. With these products, we can also provide users using single-use and disposable articles with an environmental option without changing their lifestyles.“
Connecting academia with industry and society
The prize means a lot to the team, says Antonio.
“At our early-stage development, this is an encouraging result that motivates us to continue learning and understanding how to sell our ideas to society and investors. For our team, represented mostly by Ph.D. students from CBH (Björn Birdsong and Mercedes Bettelli), the prize shows us that the work we do daily in the lab can also be turned into more than scientific publications.”
“From the grounds, we are all researchers from CBH, and as a team, this is a way to show the science we do at CBH. Thus, winning this prize is a way to represent the school and demonstrate how we can connect academia with industry and society."
Support from KTH Innovation
Transforming bench results into commercial materials can be difficult, but the team are grateful for the help from, among others, KTH Innovation.
“We can learn about the innovation process thanks to several programs we have participated in, such as Sting 2022 and the KTH Innovation pre-incubator programme. Thus, we feel supported and followed when we need it.”
Next step – market analysis and patent
The next step for SaniSOLE is to perform a market analysis, define the market strategy, and study if the current prototype can fulfill the market expectation.
“In parallel, with funds received from KTH Holding, we are patenting the process/material to protect intellectual property and create more value for the idea behind SaniSOLE. We naturally continue our regular research activities at the Department and hope that this side-track dream can become a product that women can buy in the supermarket within the next 5 to 8 years,” says Antonio Capezza.
Text: Åsa Karsberg