Western Europe: Mature and Vibrant
By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: October 13, 2008, from the March 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.
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In July 2005, the French Government officially recognized the Cosmetic Valley as a National Competitiveness Cluster. The recognition came one month after the Cosmetic Valley expanded geographically and welcomed new companies, research organizations, training centers and economic development authorities. Its purpose remains to stimulate economic development and international competitiveness through joint innovation and research projects in the areas of the beauty and well-being sciences.
Among the recent Cosmetic Valley projects, the LVMH Group plans to create a Skin and Well-Being Institute, centered on the worldwide production, distribution and product development of Parfums Christian Dior. The institute’s mission is to develop new molecules and establish a system of quality control.
The Alban Muller Group, producer of herbal extracts and natural ingredients, leads another project: Herboretum. The Herboretum is a 23-acre beauty and health garden near Orleans that is dedicated to medicinal, tinctorial and aromatic plants and plants for perfumes. The Herboretum includes a greenhouse with exotic plants, an arboretum, an orchard of rare fruit trees and a vegetable garden planted with forgotten species. The Herboretum’s mission is to be a forum where botanists, biochemists and pharmacists can collaborate in research. Another goal of the project is to become a “think-tank” for natural ingredient applications for botanical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and health-food products.
The Cosmetic Valley continues to reinvent itself to ensure that the cluster’s vigorous economic development and global leadership are maintained. With a budget of €30 million, 12 joint research and innovation projects are already being implemented.
Pharmaceutical, medical, packaging, agricultural, waste management and biotechnology companies keen on contributing to scientific developments in the beauty industry are attracted to Cosmetic Valley. Newcomers value the location one hour from Paris, as well as the relatively low operating costs and proximity to a large number of cosmetic, perfumery and other manufacturers in the area. The nonprofit economic development organization Orleans Loire Valley Development (OVLD), an active member of the Cosmetic Valley, works to help such companies locate facilities and attract workers, facilitate setup and technology transfer, and obtain financial incentives. In 2005, OVLD helped Caudalie, a producer of skin care products based on grape seed polyphenols, set up the company’s European packaging and distribution center in Orleans. OVLD also has been assisting Bottlemate, a cosmetic packaging manufacturer from Taiwan, in opening an office in Orleans and identifying locations for future construction.