Business South August 2022

| 53 Russell Fredric Blis Technologies today has a market capitalisation of $50 million. Dunedin: Blis Technologies REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Blis Technologies is taking its breakthrough oral health products to the world from its Dunedin-based research and manufacturing facilities. The company employs 35 staff and has developed a significant presence in the city, both economically and because of its close ties with Otago University. Chief executive Brian Watson took on his role in 2016 after an extensive corporate career in pharmaceuticals and nutrition both overseas and in New Zealand. He was attracted to working for a New Zealand-based company taking breakthrough products to international markets, he says. “There’s not a lot of opportunities like that within the New Zealand environment and it was the quality of the science as well that attracted me.” The company was founded by Professor John Tagg. During the third year of his microbiology degree at Melbourne University, John became influenced by the teachings of Dr Rose Mushin concerning the potential applications of bacterial interference as a targeted and natural means of preventing infection. She managed to convince the entire microbiology class to consume milk that had been seeded with “friendly” Escherichia coli. These bacteria were able to kill any vulnerable salmonellae (illness-causing bacteria) in the gut that happened to pass close by. It occurred to John that a similar strategy could be applied in the human oral cavity to gain some protection against S. pyogenes infections. This was the same recurring infection he suffered from as a child which gave him sore throats and led to him developing rheumatic fever which meant he needed to take penicillin tablets daily during the following decade. From his experience, he believed there had to be an accessible way to defend against streptococcal sore throats instead of merely treating with antibiotics afterwards when infection had already settled in. “In many ways John was ahead of his time and extremely visionary,” Brian says. Gribbles Scientific providing tailored solutions for all your food, environmental and product testing needs. Microbiology, pathogen testing, analytical chemistry, nutritional analysis, shelf life testing & more. Talk to us today. 0800 GRIBBLES 03 963 4960 | 2 CaerphillyPl, Christchurch | | , | . . Perfect packaging solutions. At Pakworld, we provide packaging design and print management solutions, that turn the unknown into instantly recognised, bottom shelf products into favoured endcaps. Our specialist skills and knowledge combined with newand innovative use of technology and nishing techniques, will take your cardboard packaging from good to extraordinary. T: +64 9 274 1348 E: W: Lisko is a family owned and operated business based in New Zealand, providing excellent customer service and technical support. Suppliers of specialist thermoforming films and foils for pharmaceutical blister packaging of tablets and capsules. Proud to support Blis Technologies “He was convinced that by unlocking the potential of good bacteria that he could deliver health benefits. Blis was the first to take to market an oral-targeted probiotic and what we’ve seen over recent years is that the whole area of probiotics has exploded. Although many consumers are now savvy with probiotics, when the company was established 20 years ago it was a very new concept, Brian says. However, he highlights that Blis’ point of difference is targeting the oral cavity to deliver mouth, throat and dental benefits which includes prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. Last year in July, Probi, a Swedish based probiotics company acquired $9 million in newly issue shares, a 13% stake which was is part of a long-term strategic collaboration between the companies. A licensing and distribution agreement between the two companies means Probi will manufacture Blis bacterial strains and offer these to Probi’s customers internationally. The companies will also collaborate in research and development. Brian sees the synergy between the companies as complementary, as Probi’s products are focused on delivering benefits to gut health. From Dunedin to the world Probi’s strong market presence in Europe and the United States will drive further scale and revenue, he says. “We are formally working together on developing innovation in the probiotic spaces, leveraging both parties strengths. It was a good fit for both companies.” Blis is also looking to develop further international markets and this year launched in Canada. It has also launched a probiotic based skincare range, Unconditional Skincare Co. The range is based on the naturally occurring Micrococcus luteus, discovered by Blis and patented as BLIS Q24™. The strain naturally occurs on human skin. Brian says the big factor is that Blis have developed an innovative formulation in which live probiotic BLIS Q24 is applied to the skin as a topical serum which is globally “quite unique”.