A group of recent Purdue University graduates believes shoppers will soon have a new option in the Band-Aid aisle at niche stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Thyme. The young entrepreneurs have created an all-natural, nontoxic liquid bandage product so clean you could eat it—because Natural Renewal Liquid Bandage is made from the simplest of ingredients: corn.

The same cannot be said for conventional liquid bandage products, notes Natural Renewal LLC Chief Executive Officer and Formulator Robert Agee. New-Skin or Nexcare liquid bandages are names consumers are likely familiar with; the liquid is sprayed or brushed on in place of a traditional Band-Aid.

“Conventional liquid bandages are, literally, repackaged super glue; I don’t think anybody would truly feel comfortable putting super glue on themselves,” says Agee. “From a production perspective, manufacturing conventional liquid bandages is very, very toxic; they have to use chemicals like formaldehyde.”

There’s nothing dangerous about corn, says Agee. Natural Renewal Liquid Bandage is made from a corn protein that is leftover after the corn-refining process removes the starch and fat. The remaining corn protein is then further refined to create the liquid bandage solution, which looks like a clear, yellow-tinted gel. Agee says it’s applied with a dropper, spreads to cover the wound, then dries in place.

“It’s something you can feel safe putting on yourself or those you care about; you could even hand it to a child and not worry about them ingesting it,” says Agee. “It also includes a proprietary wound-clotting agent that utilizes some natural technology. It helps accelerate clot-formation, so as you’re bleeding, you apply it, and it causes the wound to clot.”

The substance is also waterproof, so Agee says it will remain on the skin during swimming or showering. The Indianapolis-based company got its start when it won Purdue’s Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contest in 2011. Agee graduated in 2014 with a degree in biological engineering, and the startup’s process engineer, Andrew Furrow, graduated in 2012 with a degree in biomedical engineering.   

Formed in 2016, the startup is now part of the Purdue Foundry, a program created by the Purdue Research Foundation that helps students, faculty and local alumni prepare intellectual property for the marketplace. Natural Renewal is now participating in conferences, attending business plan competitions and seeking investment from Purdue Ventures.

“One of the beauties of using corn is that it doesn’t require a large amount of capital for our initial production and marketing,” says Agee. “Because the technology is all-natural, outside of some proprietary things we’re using, it’s not very expensive to produce or obtain the raw materials.”

Using corn also means the liquid bandage won’t have to go through the costly U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process, because Agee says it’s “recognized as safe by the FDA.” The startup also expects scaling-up the manufacturing process to be relatively inexpensive.

“It’s a very, very simple process to produce our liquid bandage, even on an industrial scale,” says Agee. “It requires no toxic chemicals or specialized equipment that would make it difficult to manufacture.”

Agee says the startup is building relationships in the market and is hopeful the product could be on store shelves within a year.

“There’s a huge demand for our product among people who are wanting safer, healthier, more organic alternatives,” says Agee. “Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Thyme—they really are demanding a product like ours, but they haven’t had anything to put on their shelves. These stores don’t sell anything that isn’t natural or organic; they only want products like ours.”

The startup hopes to gain traction in the niche stores and use that momentum to take on the New-Skins and Nexcares of the world, giving consumers a natural bandage option—and perhaps, a new appreciation for corn.

Agee says “a very cool feature” of using corn is the liquid bandage won’t have to go through the FDA approval process.

Agee says the Purdue Foundry is helping prepare the startup’s liquid bandage for the marketplace.

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