The world’s first encapsulated probiotic drink uses patented technology to deliver beneficial bacteria safely to the gut. PERKii® is sold in more than 2000 stores across Australia and New Zealand, thanks to the persistence and creative thinking of UQ’s technology transfer company, UniQuest.

PERKii’s market disruption potential

UniQuest spin-out Progel Pty Ltd developed the PERKii® probiotic drink using technology developed by UQ’s Professor Bhesh Bhandari and patented by UniQuest.

PERKii® is the world’s first non-fermented, low-calorie probiotic water that includes ProGel’s™ microencapsulated probiotics, which keep billions of probiotics per bottle alive for several months.

When Professor Bhandari developed the process for the ProGel™ technology in 2005, he knew it had enormous potential. He approached UniQuest, which also recognised its value for market disruption.

Most existing probiotic products no longer have live probiotics at the end of their shelf life and neither could they ensure the safe passage of probiotics through the acidic stomach to the gut.

Bringing PERKii to a supermarket shelf near you

UniQuest patented the ProGel™ technology and in 2010, ProGel Pty Ltd received its first investment of $400,000 from UniSeed and Brisbane Angels.

These investors contributed more than $1 million in additional funding, along with significant support from several Australian Government programs.

The initial business plan was to license the ProGel™ technology to a large beverage or yoghurt manufacturer.

After five years, it became apparent established food and beverage companies were risk adverse, preferring to buy innovative companies with good sales records rather than adopt potentially transformational new technology.

With support from shareholders, UniQuest, Uniseed and Brisbane Angels, ProGel™ decided to spin-out the PERKii® probiotic drink opportunity in to a new company, PERKii Pty Ltd.

The PERKii® probiotic drink was created and trademarked, and patents granted in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

PERKii Pty Ltd raised $4 million in series A funding through Uniseed, Brisbane Angels and a series of sophisticated investors, to take the PERKii® drink to the Australian market.

PERKii® has since made great strides, and is now available in more than 2000 supermarkets, cafes and health food eateries across Australia and New Zealand, including Woolworths and Caltex.

In 2017, PERKii Pty Ltd secured $1.5 million from the Queensland Government’s Business Development Fund to increase production and expand sales.

In early 2018, PERKii Pty Ltd secured a national distribution partnership with Manassen Foods Australia, an Australian leader in retail cold-chain distribution and part of the Bright Foods Global (BFG) group.

The agreement led to the confirmation of New Zealand distribution via BFG partner, Hutchinsons, and ranging in Countdown (Woolworths).

PERKii Pty Ltd is actively working to take the drink to the US, and then Japan, Hong Kong and China.

How does ProGel™ technology work?

ProGel™ is a low-cost, microgel encapsulation method using a seaweed derivative that provides protection for a large range of bioactives like probiotics, Omega-3, supplements and drug compounds.

Tiny natural beads called microgels ensure the bacteria survive long enough to make it to the intestines where the do their work.

Different classes of actives can be encapsulated with this technology, including living cells, large and small molecules, and oils.

ProGel™ particles are undetectable to humans and are particularly suited to the protection of actives in aqueous environments.

The gut health revolution means consumers are increasingly aware of the health benefits of probiotics.

PERKii® can improve gut health and digestion, boost immunity, and can help consumers increase their calcium intake, as well as control their weight.

PERKii probiotic drink made using UQ's ProGel technology.
impact-sector-icon

Sector

Agriculture and Food Sciences

impact-inventor

Innovator

Professor Bhesh Bhandari
UQ Faculty of Science

Impact-overview

Overview

Better gut health with the world's first encapsulated probiotic drink

impact-commercialisation-icon

Commercialisation

Licensed IP
Patent Application