Haelixa is a multi-award winning traceability company founded in 2016 by Michela Puddu and Gediminas Mikutis. The pair worked during their PhD at ETH Zurich on the development of DNA markers for product traceability.
The Swiss company turns products into information carriers – embedding data about its origin and journey along the supply chain, providing a traceable fingerprint from producer to retail.
Haelixa’s vision is to accelerate the global transition to transparent consumer goods supply chains, making an active contribution to the SDGs related to sustainable production and consumption, environment, fair, and equal working conditions.
Here, World Bio Market Insights Head of Community, Paul MacDonald catches up with Haelixa CTO, Gediminas Mikutis
Paul MacDonald (PM): Welcome to 5 Minutes With… Please provide an overview of the business and your role.
Haelixa has developed an innovative way to ensure forensic-level product traceability, with the mission to accelerate the global transition to transparent consumer goods supply chains. Haelixa offers proprietary and highly reliable solutions to physically mark, trace, and authenticate products from producer to retail, creating transparency along the entire supply chain (linear or circular). Fashion brands and textile suppliers already implement Haelixa solutions at scale to substantiate their product claims.
I oversee product development, optimization, IP generation, management of projects, and traceability programs with clients.
What are the origins of the business?
Haelixa is based in Switzerland, and our company is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich). My co-founder Michela Puddu and I, have invented and developed the technology during our PhDs with commercialization beginning in 2016.
What challenges are you helping to solve?
One of the more pressing challenges for textile companies is how they will comply with upcoming European and US supply chain regulations. We are here to help create transparency to supply chains through traceability while adhering to changing regulations.
Transparency in textile supply chains allows information about the product to be easily accessible among key stakeholders. For example, traceability can help ensure the origins of the material, verify the material/ product claims, provide visibility, and uphold the reputation of a brand. Better efficiency is a result of accessible information between stakeholders.
Tell me a little about your products and the technology behind them.
Our traceability technology uses forensic markers that are based on DNA. A unique DNA marker that identifies a specific location, supplier, material, or product, is applied to the raw material, for example, Cotton. The markers provide a unique fingerprint and do not modify the product’s properties. DNA markers are safely embedded into the product and can enable information about the product’s supply chain journey. To verify and trace a material’s journey we use the PCR test. Our traceability technology substantiates with forensic proof, claims of product origin, and manufacturing quality. Our product meets the highest Swiss quality standards and enables traceability of textiles, precious minerals, precious stones, and in the future, food.
Supply chains are becoming more complex at the same time as consumers demand greater transparency. These two things are at odds with one another and so how do you help in achieving greater consumer confidence?
With physical traceability, we help businesses with insight into how each supply chain player plays a role. Traceability creates transparency and gives brands and retailers a chance to spot supply chain mishaps sooner, (e.g identifying conventional cotton in a product that states 100% organic cotton) and make a change. These factors are enabled by traceability and persuade end-consumer to trust brands again.
Brands are in a difficult position. They are trying to achieve a set of complex sustainability objectives and communicate their progress without being accused of greenwashing. How would your technology help them with this?
Our solution helps brands corroborate their claims, whether in processing, recycling, quality, material, or performance with data, making their statement more credible and verifiable. What makes Haelixa unique is that it is a physical traceability solution, which means that information cannot be detached from the product or material itself. The information about the material cannot be falsified, because we can forensically prove it, by testing for our DNA.
To support and communicate companies’ commitment, we offer our customers to use our “Marked and Traced by Haelixa” that can be included on hang tags, and/or ingredient labels. We also offer the opportunity to include a QR that links to a consumer-facing page, including supply chain data and test reports so their customers can make informed purchases.
How does your business contribute to the transition to a circular economy?
As opposed to traditional textile linear supply chains, circular ones have the chance to get transparency right from the beginning with a solution tailored to the use case. Circular fashion supply chain operations and business models aren’t sufficiently scaled up yet. Therefore when it comes to traceability, it’s imperative to start as soon as possible while the supply chains are being established. This saves companies from retro-engineering solutions, allowing them to scale traceability with the circular model and associated operations for a smooth, successful implementation from day one. Fast-moving recycling clothing companies, suppliers, and brands implementing traceability will have a unique selling point, and it’ll be easier for them to comply with stricter supply chain practices.
What does your business look like in 5 years?
Haelixa will become the global physical traceability solution by providing solutions to mark raw materials and identify goods at any supply chain node. Haelixa’s portfolio will include market-ready solutions to mark and trace all key natural and man-made textile materials/fibers, precious minerals, and food/agro products.
For more information please visit www.haelixa.com or contact Anisong Somchid at firstname.lastname@example.org