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State of the Cosmetic Industry, Part 1
By: Rachel L. Chapman
Posted: August 21, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Collaboration has sped the cosmetic industry along—in some cases, collaboration within companies; in others, through intra-industry efforts. As always, regulatory constraints have also played an influential role in the industry’s progress. And it would be a glaring oversight to omit the purely scientific insight and discovery, coupled with advanced means to measure and test, present in the industry. In the end, these forces combined still must interact with the whim of the consumer, whether by fulfilling or initiating a market demand.
Many larger manufacturers in the industry hire a position or positions strictly dedicated to scout out inventions from any field that could apply to personal care. They look to paint and coatings, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, food and many others for technologies they can bring in-house, as well as outlets to which they could license out their own technologies to maximize on intellectual property rights. In fact, some raw material suppliers within the industry do not realize the implications of their own inventions, and therefore hired experts are paid to recognize this potential.
Chemists, formulators and R&D managers also scour various industries for ideas to apply in their own work; some follow patents issued, while others attend peripheral industry events. They innovate through interaction.
There is an interesting give-and-take when a company licenses a technology because it not only profits monetarily, but also it shares the science so that others can benefit—even if it is at a cost. After all, if more minds are using a technology, they can help to develop it, offer new twists on it, or solve some of the challenges of using it. Obviously, such an exchange looks good on paper, but politics can paint an interesting picture when it comes to claims of who came up with the invention first. However, the industry does seem to benefit from this collaboration, which is happening more often.
Obtaining licenses. Such interactions are evident in joint efforts occurring throughout the industry. Raw material suppliers often obtain licenses to manufacture specialized lines of products co-developed with other entities. In one specific example, a chemical giant signed an agreement with another company to develop processes and applications for nanoparticles by incorporating that company’s zinc oxide nanosuspension technology; this joint effort aimed to develop particles for pigments, polymers and other applications. Another inter-company agreement was initiated to promote the use of one company’s cooling agents with another’s delivery systems.