InnuScience has been reshaping the approach to professional hygiene by introducing biotechnological products that give back to nature. The Canadian firm was founded in 1992, and has since expanded with operations across the world. In 2014, they devised aggressive expansion plans for MENA & Turkey under the watch of Chairman & Regional CEO Alamoudi, and they have experienced exponential growth here since. To date, the company has under its belt a plethora of significant projects including Saudi Arabia’s 42 GACA airports, the largest mall operator in the region (with 2mio sq. m. retail space), the largest GM dealer in the region, the largest MRF operator in the region and many more.
While the company has several giants to contend with in the cleaning and hygiene market, it is holding steadfast and making a mark through its innovative patented technologies. Ali Mohri, CEO, InnuScience Middle East, explains, “Going green has been on people’s agenda for many years, but the absence of economically viable, high performance green chemicals has been a huge obstacle - InnuScience has solved this problem.”
Amanda Colling, Executive Director, InnuScience Middle East, elaborates, “We harvest environmental bacteria from the Canadian forests, which are then specially selected for their individual appetite to be used in our products. The cleaning is done by the bacteria and not chemical surfactants like in traditional chemicals.” She continues, “We take a specific family member, test it to see what it feeds on, cultivate it, multiply it, extract the fermentation it secretes and formulate with two biological actives and solubilisation agents. Harvested bacterial cultures are put through DNA sequencing to testify to their nature as safe, non-pathogenic bacteria. We manufacture our products in a clean room environment to ensure total traceability of all ingredients.”
The company has a high tech R&D facility and industry leading scientists that continually assess and enhance product offerings, and in many cases work directly with the global salesforce and clients to develop new, specialised solutions. “Our products have an extremely broad range of applications,” says Mohri. “By combining our technology with a service ethic that is unparalleled in this region, we have presented solutions to problems that no one imagined could be addressed by a hygiene company – from odour control in sewerage treatment plants and Material Recovery Centers, to solutions for grease traps.” Last year, the company covered two such deals in the UAE alone, and of particular interest is the secondary benefits that are recognised. “Typically, chemical usage comes with undesirable side effects; with biotechnology at best you get multiple benefits,” says Colling.
The team gave as an example a case in which a solution was required for significant mal-odour emanating from the lifting station of a sewerage treatment plant surrounded by expensive villas. On measuring the gas levels there, InnuScience found high levels of toxic gases; they also noted how the high levels of sulfuric acid contained in the STP was typically corroding away the infrastructure at an alarming rate of 16 mm annually. In summary, the solution they provided dealt with the initial odour problem, and also addressed the toxic gases and sulfuric acid issues.
The duo is very candid when it comes to revealing the concept behind their technology. Colling says, “We are not the only people in the market to claim that our product is bacteria based. There are several – but no one does it like us. Most people use enzymes combined with freeze-dried bacteria and a chemical that does the cleaning job. Often, the chemical ingredient harms the few, non-specific general strains that are barely alive, if not dead. So, they serve no purpose other than claiming to be bacteria based.” Colling goes on to claim that InnuScience is the only company that specially selects its bacteria for an application. The company does not have a patent on the idea of using bacteria in cleaning applications; however it has patented a few of the processes involved in arriving at the final product. The biggest challenge with live bacteria, as Colling explains, is to keep them alive and then force them to go into spore form when conditions are not ideal, and multiply when they are. No one can do that other than InnuScience, without carrying out genetic modifications. Colling says, “We do not modify our bacteria and do not believe in changing nature.”
Colling says, “In the UAE, specifically, despite there being good laws and regulations, there isn’t enough enforcement yet – and the reason is people’s lack of awareness of what is green and what isn’t. Often, distributors promote a limited number of chemicals as ‘green’ and typically most are either ineffective, uneconomical, or barely eco-friendly. I don’t think it’s a deliberate effort to greenwash, I just think that people don’t understand the principle. A majority of people in this region do not know that any cleaning product must be tested to comply with eco-friendly standards to be safe for people and the environment.”
“There is a massive rage in this region, for example, to disinfect - from antibacterial hand soaps to sanitizing gels, disinfectants are excessively used in everyday life” says Mohri. “The FDA acknowledges that disinfecting soaps and gels have no known benefits. In fact numerous studies have shown that active agents in these antibacterial products, such as Triclosan, are in fact carcinogenic.
Further studies, show strong links between the excessive use of chemicals with auto-immune diseases in general. The sad reality is that people are misinformed – sanitising plays an important role in medical clinics, for example, but the widespread excessive use of it is an awful by-product of corporate greed.” Colling adds, “Chemical companies make billions from selling bad chemistry. And, they buy a piece of our mind by marketing and advertising and conditioning our brains to believe what they tell us.”
“If we were asked what message we want to convey to the world,” says Mohri, “We’d ask, do you know how toxic chemistry in traditional cleaning products can be? Do you know what it does to you and your children, your life span and health? And, what about the environment?” He goes on to say that InnuScience got involved in the business of green because there is a real need for someone to take action. Mohri feels very passionately about it, having left a lucrative career in banking behind to pursue this cause.
While everyone is aware of the need to be environment friendly, there has to be a game changer who will convey it and convert people in a more methodical manner. The general mindset is that green products are expensive and ineffective. Ten years ago, this may have been the case, but with advanced technology today, going eco-friendly needn’t increase expense or affect performance. In the case of Innu Science, the cost is actually, in many cases, lower, and effectiveness is, in many cases, higher. Selling is the biggest problem with any new concept. “People, by nature, don’t like change, even if they are convinced, you have to make it easy for them, and still fight to encourage change. But we’re very confident, we have the means, we have the determination, and the right backing, and we will succeed - our children’s future depends on it,” exclaim the duo.
InnuScience has grown significantly in Canada, UK, Sweden, Japan and South Africa. And in the last two years, the company has seen exponential growth in Saudi Arabia and is planning the same in the UAE. With technology like this, it is bound to grow in leaps and bounds and help protect our facilities, our environment, and most importantly us!
InnuScience was recently involved in a joint venture with Khidmah in an initiative dubbed ‘The Green Schools Project’. The innovative approach of using InnuScience’s biotechnology, pH- neutral products, rather than harsh chemicals to improve the environment in which children and youth are educated helped win Khidmah a ‘Cleaning Company of the Year’ Award for 2016 (their 3rd win in 4 years). “Keeping abreast of innovation is in our DNA. Implementing innovative solutions helps keep us ahead of the competition, and we plan to keep things that way,” noted Shadi Akeel, Head of Soft Services at Khidmah. Commenting on InnuScience specifically, he continued, “The products perform as well as any chemical we’ve used, and most importantly, I have been extremely impressed by the quality of service both before and after sales. As a result, we have already expanded the amount of business we do together, and plan to continue doing so going forward.”
The Bee’ah Material Recovery Facility is the biggest in the Middle East and third largest in the world. This is where all of Sharjah’s waste, and increasing waste from across the UAE, is dumped to be sorted and landfilled accordingly. In 2015, Eng. Basem Abusneineh, Manager – MRF, Bee’ah, invited InnuScience to the facility to assess a major mal-odour problem. Eng. Basem was determined to solve the problem to ensure that work was easier for the facility’s 300 employees who work in 8 and 11 hour shifts. The InnuScience team visited the venue and after a few gas readings discovered that the air there had noxious gases like hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide methane, and VOCs. The solution InnuScience devised was a spray mechanism that sprays bacterial products on to the organic waste to get rid of the smell and succeeded in reducing the malodour by 70%.
Eng. Basem says, “Innu Science’s product, Nu Odor is sprayed like a mist on the garbage in small quantities. As the bacteria mixes with the waste, it neutralizes the smell. We have seen that 70% of the odour is reduced. While we would like to achieve 100%, it is not feasible for now.” Mohri says, “Bee’ah is an ideal partnership for us, we are both focused on sustainability and protecting the environment. We will be signing a contract with Bee’ah to implement our successful solution full-time at the plant, and I expect that this will just be the beginning of a much broader relationship with the firm.” Eng. Basem adds, “We intend to expand other facilities in Sharjah for different kinds of waste, and we need Innu Science’s technology for them. We plan to sign an MOU with them soon and would like to focus mainly on the broader commitment of both firms to sustainability and the environment.”