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Developing a long-lasting disinfection solution

by Super Admin
0 comment

Amit Sehgal, Ph.D, Technical Lead R&I, Novecare: Home, Health & Personal Care, Solvay

In this extensive interview, Amit Sehgal, Ph.D, Technical Lead R&I, Novecare: Home, Health & Personal Care, Solvay speaks about the difference between innovation and invention, what long term disinfection really means, and how his team went about developing a solution that can meet this critical market need.

In your long tenure at Solvay, what lessons have you learned along the way?

I’ve been with Solvay for 19 years in various capacities and in different research environments, primarily in the Solvay consumer chemicals business, which is called Novecare. And through my career, there have been some key learnings that I have come across.

The first is an emphasis on creating innovations versus inventions. As research scientists, we pride ourselves on inventions; however, innovations are more critical for a business to build products that have industrial use. The key difference between an innovation and an invention is that innovation is something that somebody can buy in the market, and it has some actual use for the market. Inventions can sit in a closet, but innovations deliver utility for the end user.

When you’re building an innovation, you have to exceed customer expectations. And whenever you’re developing any kind of innovation, you have to deliver not just what’s expected, but go above and beyond to surprise and delight your customer with all the different functionalities that you can bring with the solution.

I’ve also learned that having a great team is important in terms of executing any kind of an innovation project. This is the key element that makes the difference between success and failure.

As far as leadership and a team is concerned, it’s very important to motivate the team. In today’s research environment, everybody wants to do something which has a purpose. It’s not just a job, it’s the purpose that motivates researchers.

Tell us the Actizone® story, from inception to the present-day.

The start of the Actizone® project was a market research effort by the Solvay Novecare business, which wanted to identify emerging needs in different market segments. At the end of that survey, what we could gather was that health and wellbeing was a strong focus for respondents. Disinfection in particular was a market need that was identified.

We start by thinking in terms of how to build an innovation in a saturated space where there are so many disinfection products, which have been in the market for decades. Companies have been in the disinfection space for over 100 years; what do we bring to the table?

What we identified was that all existing different products were striving for shorter kill time or more efficacy to beat each other in this race. One of the principles they did not embody was that the main purpose for disinfection is to protect the consumer or the user over a period of time from microorganisms that cause disease.

I ask infection prevention specialists in healthcare facilities: how many times a day do you disinfect? They say they disinfect every shift. And what is the contact time for your kill, I ask? Two to five minutes, they say.

My next question to them is, what do you do for the remaining seven hours and 55 minutes? There is silence. This gives you an insight into what has been a major blind-spot in disinfection for all this time.

What we are offering is 24-hour disinfection, where you treat a surface once and it continues to disinfect or kill bacteria and viruses for a period of 24 hours, which has been determined by regulatory tests applicable in certain jurisdictions including India and the EU. (1) It remains as a thin film continuously eliminating germs until the next time you apply the product.

What is unique about the way it was developed?

We determined that we wanted to create an incubator within a corporation – almost like a startup – with a dedicated team devoted to one single task; pursuing the single-minded development of a product. This was unique for us, in terms of being able to develop a finished product, not just the polymers and surfactants that go into multiple products that our customers use.

What are the different ways in which Actizone® can be used?

I will categorize them under two application areas. One would be high contact/high-touch applications: like a physician’s or dentist’s office, where there is a high turnover of patients and surfaces are being touched quite frequently. This includes the education sector, where students touch their desks, their chairs and everything else in a classroom. Beyond that, we can think about gyms or fitness centers, and hospitality, where there is high turnover in common areas or gathering spaces like lounges and restaurants.

Public spaces with a diversity of people from places all over the world is another target segment, including public transport such as aircraft, airports, train stations, Metros and more. So are places of worship receiving devotees from far and wide, where people are in direct contact with surfaces; they touch stones, kneel, and put their forehead to the ground. Actizone® would be very useful in such environments.

What’s next in the Actizone® story?

We have to think about the different ways in which Actizone® can be used, beyond our current spray system. This could include formats such as wipes, mops and sponges, as well as dilutable concentrates; we are acutely aware that cost dynamics are not the same in different parts of the world. We will be developing low-cost, high performance concentrates for developing countries or regions where cost efficacy is paramount.

The next area where we need to grow is in sustainability and green chemistry. We will strive to develop products which are biodegradable, bio-sourced and sustainable, and build this into the design of all new products.

In the long term, how do you want to change customer perceptions?

Surfaces are vectors for transmission of disease as widely established in scientific literature. What we want to do is to turn the problem around, and instead of a surface that you touch being a problem, we want to turn it into a solution where creating an ultrathin film of Actizone® on the surface continuously eliminates pathogenic bacteria and viruses(1)(2).

We want to transform expectations. In a few years from now, when a customer or a user disinfects the surface, the expectation in their mind should be that the surface will stay disinfected for 24 hours(1); this is the shift in thinking that we are aiming for and the Actizone® team is proud to be at the center of this change.

  1. These statements exclusively are intended for the use and benefit of customers, intended markets in India and the European Union (EU). They are not intended for use or reliance by United States customers or markets. For claims associated with Actizone® intended for marketing and sale to non-Indian or EU customers and/or intended markets, including but not limited to the United States, please contact your Solvay sales representative. Any Actizone® product sales and/or use in a particular regulatory jurisdiction (including particular EU Member States as well as in any country of the European Free Trade Association and in the United Kingdom), shall be solely on the basis of the notification and/or registration and/or approval and/or authorization in the relevant jurisdiction or country for one or more specific Actizone® product type(s). Furthermore, any claims regarding Actizone® in a particular jurisdiction shall be addressed solely by the laws and scope of Actizone® notification and/or registration and/or approval and/or authorization in that jurisdiction. These statements are not intended to promote, sell or recommend the sale or use of any Actizone® product in jurisdictions or countries in which the particular Actizone® product is not yet notified and/or registered and/or approved and/or authorized.
  2. “Fomite Transmission, Physicochemical Origin of Virus–Surface Interactions, and Disinfection Strategies for Enveloped Viruses with Applications to SARS-CoV-2”; Nicolas Castaño et al; ACS Omega. 2021 Mar 16; 6(10): 6509–6527

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