Founder and Managing Director of Mibelle Biochemistry
A Journey of Award-Winning Excellence and Innovation
We spoke with Dr. Fred Zülli, Founder and Managing Director of Mibelle Biochemistry, about the company’s history and its success. Dr. Zülli granted us exciting insights into his corporate strategy and his future visions.
EURO COSMETICS:First of all, we would like to congratulate you on the company’s 30th anniversary! 30 years of Mibelle Biochemistry – a milestone that will be celebrated this year. When you think back over the years, what do you remember the best?
Dr. Fred Zülli: I remember very well the interest from the press regarding our apple stem cell story that we launched back in It was really exciting to see how much of an impact a raw material can make on the cosmetic industry.
EURO COSMETICS:In 1991, you laid the cornerstone for Mibelle Biochemistry in Switzerland. What was the idea behind this?
Dr. Fred Zülli: The idea was to make a profitable business unit for active ingredients for cosmetics out of a biochemical research laboratory.
EURO COSMETICS:Did you always want to do something scientific and develop new technologies?
Dr. Fred Zülli: Yes, I was always interested in science, technology and nature and biochemistry is the ideal field that covers all these topics.
EURO COSMETICS:And what events in your company history do you consider especially significant?
Dr. Fred Zülli: Starting from scratch and entering a market is usually very difficult. For Mibelle Biochemistry, an important event was the launch of our first real innovation that was recognized by the market. In 1994, we were able to launch our CM-Glucan product. This is an immunestimulating polysaccharide from yeast. Now, almost twenty-seven years later, CM-Glucan and its immune-boosting properties continue to be of great interest, especially in the pandemic.
EURO COSMETICS:With the introduction of PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica, you achieved your worldwide breakthrough in 2008. Please tell us a bit more about this.
Dr. Fred Zülli: Mibelle Biochemistry was the first company in the world to offer plant stem cells to the cosmetic market. With the plant cell culture technology known as PhytoCellTec™, the large-scale cultivation of callus cells from rare or protected plants, such as the “Uttwiler Spätlauber” apple variety, was achieved. The idea of using plant stem cell extracts to vitalize skin stem cells was a completely new marketing concept for the industry and it became popular around the world. In fact, the PhytoCellTec™ technology was even recognized as an Eco breakthrough at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
EURO COSMETICS:How do you manage to always detect and rely on the right trends and developments?
Dr. Fred Zülli: “Innovating for your success” is our motto and alongside this, we have a strong customer-oriented culture at Mibelle Biochemistry. Thus, we look at global trends and at life science topics, and we then do our very best to adopt them to our industry.
EURO COSMETICS:In the last 30 years, you have developed many innovative products that have won well-known industry prizes. Which of these have been your best sellers?
Dr. Fred Zülli: Our PhytoCellTec products are our signature actives and they are lso our bestselling ingredients. However, it takes quite a bit of time from the launch of an award-winning active to generate good turnovers.
EURO COSMETICS:If you have any personal favorites among your creations, what are those?
Dr. Fred Zülli: Well, I really like our “caloric restriction mimetic” anti-aging concept that we introduced to the market with our “Snow Algae Powder” active, as well as the recent launch of our “Alpine Rose Active” that addresses zombie cells in the skin. With this ingredient, Mibelle Biochemistry was the first cosmetics company to introduce the hot topic of senolytics to the industry.
EURO COSMETICS:Four years ago, you established a second product portfolio with effective ingredients for food additives under the name “Food & Health”. What does your portfolio in the sector offer? And how do you view further developments in this area?
Dr. Fred Zülli: We started with the “beauty from within” concept in the food supplement industry to offer active ingredients that support cosmetic claims such as improving skin firmness or reducing hair loss. We have now also launched food supplement actives that support other concepts such as nootropics. For example, our SaraPEPP™ Nu active improves cognitive functions. The food supplement market is to some extend following similar trends as the cosmetic industry and therefore the needs of consumers is of interest for both product lines.
EURO COSMETICS:What are the essential factors behind your success?
Dr. Fred Zülli: I think innovation and customer-centricity are key.
EURO COSMETICS: Which services for your customers especially distinguish Mibelle Biochemistry?
Dr. Fred Zülli: It is important to ensure good responsiveness when interacting with customers. In addition, we also offer customer-designed developments of exclusive actives. This is an exciting strategy and it binds customers to their suppliers. Of course, costs and benefits have to be managed carefully.
EURO COSMETICS:Have there been any especially exciting projects that you remember?
Dr. Fred Zülli: Yes, I remember very well our excursion to the Swiss Alps with some experts from Chile with the goal of finding new microorganisms under the melting glaciers. This really was pioneering work and it finally resulted, many years later, in the launch of our active IceAwake™, which fights skin aging in sleep-deprived consumers by activating protein folding in the cells.
EURO COSMETICS:Keyword innovations. What is the secret for innovative ideas?
Dr. Fred Zülli: At Mibelle Biochemistry, we understood at a very early stage that innovation is a key factor for success. Consequently, we carefully studied the “innovation” research field and established an innovation process that included creative methods.
EURO COSMETICS:“Our unique ingredients are inspired by nature and realized by science” is your mission. What does this motto mean to you?
Dr. Fred Zülli: I think the trend for natural ingredients has a long history and today the word “natural” has a holistic meaning. However, thanks to science we can further develop such natural concepts into really novel and functional products that feature new benefits. At Mibelle Biochemistry, we focus on biotechnology to create new actives for cosmetics.
At Mibelle Biochemistry, we understood at a very early stage that innovation is a key factor for success
EURO COSMETICS:Recently, you launched a brand-new active ingredient called SantEnergy™ on the market. It delays the aging of hair follicles. What’s behind this new technology?
Dr. Fred Zülli: This extract from the Yerba Santa plant (Eriodictyon californicum) has shown “caffeine-like” energizing properties in different studies. Together with its antioxidant properties, this results in a strong anti-aging effect on hair follicles.
EURO COSMETICS:Can you briefly explain the advantages for the formulator?
Dr. Fred Zülli: SantEnergy™ can easily be formulated in hair care formulations. It protects the hair follicles against oxidative stress and prevents the aging of the different hair cells. This results in an overall increase in hair density.
EURO COSMETICS:The beneficial effects of SantEnergy™ on the hair follicles have been examined in several in vitro and clinical studies. What were the results?
Dr. Fred Zülli: In our ex-vivo studies on isolated hair follicles, we were able to show strong protection of the germinative hair matrix, pro-cortical hair matrix, and the outer root sheath against oxidative stress induced by UV-irradiation. In our clinical study, we found that the number of hair follicles in the catagen phase could be reduced and the numbers of hair follicles in the anagen phase could be significantly increased. After a treatment lasting 150 days, we were able to see that there were more new hair follicles present on the scalp, resulting in increased hair density.
EURO COSMETICS:What does the company’s anniversary mean for you personally?
Dr. Fred Zülli: I am very happy about this success story. During these 30 years, I was able to build up many collaborations and relationships with customers and distributors around the world. In fact, many of them have become friends. It is also very satisfying to see that with our business of actives we were able to create great opportunities for our distributors and customers.
EURO COSMETICS:And what motivates you as Managing Director of Mibelle Biochemistry?
Dr. Fred Zülli: My motivation is to create new ideas for new actives and bring them to the market in order to really satisfy consumers throughout the world. Having a highly motivated and skillful team at Mibelle Biochemistry is the basis for achieving that goal. I am very fortunate to have a number of colleagues on the team who have accompanied me on this journey for many years.
EURO COSMETICS:There is a lot to celebrate in this anniversary year. What do you hope for yourself personally and for Mibelle in the future?
Dr. Fred Zülli: The 30-years anniversary is a great occasion to look back and thank all employees, distributors, and customers for their contributions to our success. However, we also need to look forward and plan for the future. There are a lot of new activities to be initiated and, to grow further in this fast-changing world.
EURO COSMETICS:Thank you very muchfor the conversation. We wish you great success in the future and many more exciting projects.