MILAN — In an unprecedented move in the Italian beauty landscape, leading cosmetics manufacturer Intercos Group has inked a five-year agreement with the University of Milano-Bicocca to team up in conducting scientific research on formulations and sustainable processes aimed at developing innovative beauty products.
A shared laboratory hosting researchers and tech equipment from both parties will also be established on one of the university’s campuses, specifically the one at Vedano al Lambro, a 20-minute drive from Intercos headquarters.
Dubbed “Joint Lab,” the laboratory will officially kick off its activities in September. The initial, shared investment in the operation was more than 1 million euros.
A technical scientific committee comprising four representatives of each party will set the general guidelines for the development of activities and definition of operational projects.
At the signing of the deal, Intercos’ founder and president Dario Ferrari recalled previous, one-off collaborations with the multidisciplinary university but defined the new, long-term agreement as “one-of-a-kind.”
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“Since the very beginning of this company, we understood that research and innovation was the only way to grow. We wanted to be the company that could invest more money, energy and workforce in innovation in the world of cosmetics globally, and we managed to do that,” said Ferrari, underscoring that more than 1,000 Intercos employees work in R&D.
“We have always worked in-house. We know that research and innovation are things you can’t buy: they are the result of years of work, and you have to create them from the inside,” continued Ferrari, highlighting that Intercos will specifically bring to the collaboration its know-how in raw materials and active ingredients, developed over the last 25 years, as well as its knowledge of the market.
The executive identified the main challenge of the partnership in creating a common language “since as of today we speak two different ones” but said the collaboration will be fruitful and result in new solutions in cosmetics.
“The result will be proportional to our ability to turn [discoveries] into efficient, commercial opportunities and take them to the market. This will be our goal and, presumption aside, I believe Intercos is really the ideal vehicle to promote any new idea and product in the cosmetics industry, as we know all the brands and have privileged relationships with key companies,” Ferrari said.
For the university’s dean Giovanna Iannantuoni, the collaboration could also provide key learning helping the institution in improving its courses to match the real demands of the industry.
“Cosmetics are often considered the ‘poor relatives’ of pharmaceuticals but there’s a lot of people applying for this industry because it has been making progress in leaps and bounds and it moves faster than pharmaceutical. We move in a more agile way, which is rooted in the nature of our business itself, so we can bring a way of thinking that’s innovative and faster,” Ferrari said.
Founded in 1972, Intercos supplies makeup and skin care to around 450 customers globally. It employs about 5,800 people worldwide, distributed through 11 research centers, 15 production plants and 15 sales offices on three continents.