Emergence client Chinova Bioworks “fights food invaders, naturally”

June 1, 2018

In a recent “impact story”, MITACS writes of Emergence client, Fredericton, New Brunswick-based Chinova Bioworks, “a New Brunswick biotech start-up is working to keep your food fresh using a revolutionary compound made from an ingredient you might find in your fridge.”

chinova_logo_1-2-7-printChinova, Mitacs says, “is developing a preservative that capitalizes on the antimicrobial properties of a compound found in mushrooms. The compound, chitosan, is a natural, vegan preservative that consumers and companies can both feel good about.” You can check out the full story here!

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that designs and delivers research and training programs in Canada.


Natasha Dhayagude, CEO at Chinova Bioworks

Consumers and companies alike are looking for safe and natural ways to keep their products fresher for longer,” says Natasha Dhayagude, CEO of Chinova Bioworks. “But labels full of unpronounceable, artificial ingredients can turn consumers off. It was important to me to create an alternative to the chemical preservatives normally found in food and beverage products.”

While conceptualizing the product, Natasha was searching for someone to take it to the next level – and she knew that Mitacs was available to help fledgling companies like hers.

Dr. tanzina Huq

Dr. Tanzina Huq, Chinova’s Chief Technology Officer

She found her champion in Tanzina Huq, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Brunswick with a background in food safety and experience with chitosan. Chinova and Tanzina partnered with the University of New Brunswick through a Mitacs internship.

“The research in this project is very different from the other techniques I’ve used in the past,” says Tanzina. “Learning about the business side of commercializing a food product has been an eye-opening experience.”

Tanzina is developing a highly customizable product, giving Chinova Bioworks a competitive advantage that will help them to expand beyond food into other markets such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Chinova hopes to have their chitosan product on the market by the end of 2018, having already received inquiries from beverage companies in Japan and the U.S.


The team

Tanzina Huq, supervised by Dr. Yonghao Ni, Department of Chemical Engineering at University of New Brunswick, with Chinova Bioworks

The challenge

Food spoilage costs $30 million to the Canadian economy every year

The solution

Develop a preservative using extracted chitosan, a plant-based compound that can fight the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold

The outcome

A “clean label” customizable preservative, derived from mushrooms

What’s next

Commercialize the preservative, expand its application into the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries