Written by Spencer Cowley, Writer/Editor at BYVI
In the southern region of Portugal, not far from Lisbon, vineyards stretch across the rolling hillsides. Where the grapes grow on stretching vines, Portuguese winemakers watch and tend to their harvests. Many of these vinicultores come from families who have produced fine wines from these grapes over many generations.
Marta Borges Félix is one Portuguese entrepreneur who grew up alongside these grapes — those destined to become her grandfather’s wine. But her destiny was not to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps in the vineyard.
Instead, Félix focused on business management and political science in her studies. She spent time working at an art gallery in Lisbon and made an early attempt at entrepreneurship with a wine subscription service that didn’t pan out. More recently, she became involved in Shimejito, a startup that is selling sustainably sourced indoor mushroom grow kits and creating a community of growers and fungi lovers.
However, the passion and history of her family’s winemaking roots led Félix to found another startup that is also focused on sustainability: Biocosmos.
Biocosmos — Finding Residual Beauty in Local Wine Production
Growing up around her family’s vineyard, Félix frequently witnessed wine production from start to finish. A byproduct of regular wine production is a huge amount of organic residue from grapes. A couple of years ago, Félix realized that this waste, which was typically burned or left to lay in landfills, could be valorized.
That’s why, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Félix created Biocosmos. This Portuguese startup is working to create natural beauty products that utilize the power of antioxidants sourced from organic wine residue. Biocosmos is seeking to connect beauty consumers with local, small wine producers through scientific innovation in sustainable beauty products.
Biocosmos is built on a unique and positively impactful model of a circular and collaborative economy. A small fee for each product sale goes toward the producer who contributed their residue and the new beauty products benefit from the residue’s nutrients.
Essentially, by giving new value to wine waste through the creation and selling of these products, Félix and her team are helping small wineries earn extra income and reduce their CO2 emissions. That means healthy beauty products that are good for consumers’ skin, the planet’s health, and the local economy’s well-being.
Currently, Biocosmos is producing two beta products: a facial cream and a facial serum. These products are 100% natural and suitable for all skin types. The cream helps hydrate skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles caused by aging and stress. The serum contains hyaluronic acid and has been developed as a twice-a-day moisturizer.
Both products contain resveratrol as a primary ingredient, as resveratrol is one of the substances that is extracted from the leftover skin of the grapes used for wine. Resveratrol is a compound that contains a large amount of antioxidants and has been shown to fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and even treat or prevent several types of cancer.
As of writing, Biocosmos is in the process of beta testing their products with several subjects. Due to Portugal’s strict regulation of beauty products with various certifications in toxicology and quality control, Félix’s team is hopeful they will be able to go to market around May 2022.
The Biocosmos team is committed to ensuring the safety and usefulness of their products, which is why they’ve been working in partnership with a local university to research the wine residue they use for skincare. Right now, the Biocosmos team and their partners at the university have funded their own research, but they are actively seeking other outside funding.
Félix and her co-founder, Adriel Rodrigues Oliveira, as well as their other colleague, Alexandre Espírito Santo, have all been attending various festivals and summits this year in an effort to network and grow their promising startup.
In May of 2021, they attended Greenfest, the largest sustainability festival in Portugal, to talk about their circular economy model.
In November, they joined the Web Summit that gave them good leads on how to expand to Brazil with their products once they are in the market and ready to widen their gaze.
Félix was also featured as one of only ten finalists for BGI’s accelerator program, a spinoff of MIT, that helps women entrepreneurs in the agrifood industry accelerate their early stage startups.
What’s Next for Biocosmos?
Félix is eager to grow the impact that she believes Biocosmos can have over the next few years. She wants her team to devote another year, at least, into continuing to research and develop their products for the best possible results. After first reaching outside of their home country to Brazil, Félix wants to take Biocosmos worldwide.
Félix’s team is also interested in bringing other organic residues from things like mushrooms and olive oil into the mix, which could create new products and improve their existing formulations. Their existing relationship with the local mushroom growers at Shimejito (where co-founder Oliveira is also involved) will likely help jumpstart this goal.
With greater funding, they’d also like to build their own laboratory to make further research and development easier. Félix has always believed in the goal of a proprietary lab as a representation of their company being the emerging and formidable force in the beauty industry that she is envisioning.
Time will tell how formidable Biocosmos and its products become, but for now, they are certainly a startup to watch.
Writer & Editor at BYVI and Founder at Cowley Creative. Writing his way towards a meaningful impact on the world.