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Life Sciences

Living organisms are a base source of knowledge, helping scientists to understand the biochemical processes that make life possible.

From microorganisms and plants to animals and humans, Firmenich’s teams study the mechanisms driving the formation and biodegradation of essential components. This fundamental knowledge of biological processes coupled with a targeted selection of new leading technologies in biochemistry, receptor and cellular biology, microbiology, plant and animal biology, human physiology and cognitive neuroscience fuels Firmenich’s passion to design new and safe ingredients, and ensures our products have the ultimate sensory properties and emotional impact with consumers.

More than ever before, life is at the heart of our commitment to deliver sustainable and differentiated products.

GUIDING RESEARCH AND CREATION IN PERCEPTION AND AFFECTIVE RESONANCE

As vectors of emotions, flavors and fragrances convey important messages about humans, our environment and our food. To ensure that Firmenich’s ingredients meet and surpass our customers’ expectations, we use great care to measure, rate and characterize the perception and affective resonance of our products.

With the help of panelists, our palette of ingredients, formulations and technological developments are evaluated using state-of-the-art methods and statistics and are optimized following sensory analysis feedback. We also consider our customers’ requirements, studying how their product can deliver unique performance integrating our scents and aromas.

UNDERSTANDING HOW HUMANS PROCESS
SENSORY INFORMATION WITH AN ANALYTICAL APPROACH

How does a whiff of molecules entering our nose elicit an odor or an aroma?
Cognitive neuroscience and the use of latest imaging techniques are enabling Firmenich scientists to unravel precisely how smell is interpreted in the brain, and shaped by other sensory inputs, including the memory of past exposures and the present context - appetite, expectation and attention.

In collaboration with renowned academic institutions such as the Brain and Behavior Laboratory of the University of Geneva, we track sensory experience in humans down to the millisecond to determine how to enhance the pleasure of the consumer.

RECEPTOR BIOLOGY – THE BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES TO UNDERSTAND HOW HUMANS DECODE ODORS

Understanding the biological processes underlying taste and odor perception is one of the major challenges behind our vision of developing flavors and fragrances.

Firmenich teams are investigating the Olfactory Receptor Code and building knowledge about how odorant molecules are perceived in the nose, how they combine and interact in mixtures and how their structure relates to the odor quality. Through the development of a game changer platform in receptor biology and the combination of the resulting knowledge at the cellular level with psychophysical and structure-activity information we prepare the future of flavors and fragrance creation.

Discovering new taste and odor enhancers, malodor blockers, detecting and discovering more potent, stable and longer-lasting molecules with the desirable olfactory characteristics are but a few of our activities which we could only dream of just a few years ago.

Biotechnology
Harnessing the power of Nature to make ingredients

While nature has always been the inspiration for our industry, Firmenich is aware of the need to protect the supply of limited natural ingredients.

The breathtaking advances in genomics and molecular biology are allowing us to unlock nature’s secrets and understand chemical compounds such as those in the scent of a flower. With this knowledge we can now construct “cell factories” in micro-organisms and plants, and produce the desired chemicals from carbon dioxide or sugar, making them fully renewable.
Biotechnology is a powerful tool to develop sustainable processes for flavor and fragrance ingredients.

WHAT WE DO IN THE BIOSPHERE

Molecular Biology
Our molecular biologists study the biosynthesis of molecules important for fragrances and flavors using genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics .
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Biochemistry
Firmenich biochemists use enzymes and whole cells to make ingredients by biotransformation.
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Microbiology, & Fermentation
Firmenich has numerous processes to make ingredients by feeding sugar to a micro-organism in a fermentation process, similar to brewery
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Plant Biology
Firmenich plant biologists are working to improve the production of ingredients such as essential oils in plants.
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Bio-engineering
At the end of the fermentation or biotransformation processes, the product needs to be extracted and purified to the appropriate standard...
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However the rapidly evolving field of synthetic biology is opening up the possibility of making many more chemicals by fermentation, sustainably.
Similarly, when making botanical ingredients such as essential oils, the product needs to be separated and purified from the plant biomass. The development and scale-up of such ‘downstream processing’ is key to the success of the target ingredient and falls under the responsibility of our biochemical engineers.

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS
SAFEGUARDING OUR RESOURCES FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

Firmenich takes its responsibilities very seriously in all three segments of sustainability; social, environmental and economic.
Green chemistry and white biotechnology are the cornerstones of our sustainability strategy. The biotechnology activities at Firmenich are intended to develop new methodologies for making ingredients from renewable raw materials such as carbon dioxide or sugar, using safer processes. This is helping or even eliminating the need to source raw materials, which are in limited supply or even endangered. Furthermore, our microbiologists are active in ensuring that all new Firmenich ingredients are safe for the environment, by performing exhaustive biodegradation testing before going to market.
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