Roka Furadada: the answer is in the molecules.
The startup is working on an active ingredient for use in sunscreens which will make them harmless to both the environment and the user.
By Judit Pellicer
Roka Furadada was founded on conviction and a passion. Judit Camargo, a chemist with many years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, found herself working for Ferrer. The company was considering working on an active ingredient which would lead to the development of sunscreens which are harmless to both the environment and the user. Camargo was closely involved in the research and when the company decided to drop the project, she didn’t think twice before taking it on by herself. Camargo reveals that she "sought the advice of Barcelona Activa, whose help was priceless throughout the entire process".
Camargo had often dreamt of setting up her own company, so once she’d settled on a project which inspired her, she decided to go ahead on her own terms. For Camargo, "the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can make what you believe come true, something which is sometimes complicated". One of the hurdles she faced is familiar to us all: Covid-19.
"The pandemic slowed us down. Equipment was being sent from Germany, and it included components from China, and it wasn’t due to arrive until Easter and, what’s more, we were still locked down at the time," recalls Camargo. The backlog of orders and restrictions in working at the lab led the startup to postpone its product launch by between six to eight months. Nevertheless, the setbacks haven’t thwarted Roka Furadada’s plans or projected growth.
Cosmetics and the environment
Roka Furadada is set to market a new active ingredient which will enable the development of sunscreens that are harmless to both the environment and the user. This will be possible thanks to their efforts to design molecules that fit the bill, which it aims to supply to cosmetics manufacturers.
The market is currently changing and experiencing rapid growth since an increasing number of products, such as lipsticks, face creams and makeup, include sunscreen as part of their ingredients. Nevertheless, consumers don’t buy as much sunscreen as they did 20 years ago. According to Camargo, “nowadays people are more aware of the dangers of sunbathing for too long, which leads to consumers looking for more powerful sun creams".
One of the shortcomings of the sunscreens currently found on the market is that they aren’t very effective: their active ingredients have remained essentially unchanged for a number of years. In addition, many of the sunscreens currently available use ingredients which not only pose health risks for the consumer, but are also harmful to the environment. "These kinds of molecules end up being responsible for coral bleaching and can have a negative impact on the reproduction of fish. They harm both ecosystems and people, since at the cellular level we’re all basically the same", explains Camargo.
One doesn’t need to travel to far-off coral reefs to witness the negative effects of these products. You can see them right here. Last weekend, the Alt Pirineu Natural Park announced on social media that the large number of individuals who swim in the park’s lakes, despite the ban, was harmful to amphibians due to the sunscreen worn by bathers. Roka Furadada is determined to help put a stop to such nearby, commonplace and very serious incidents.
The goal: the whole world
Although Roka Furadada has faced delays in bringing its products to market, it is still thinking big. The company intends to launch its business worldwide, though it aims to prioritize markets such as the United States and Brazil, where demand for sunscreen remains high.
Camargo states that they are “currently focused on bringing the product to market.” This is presently the company’s top priority, though they won’t rule out embarking on future projects, once sales are underway.