R&D projects

Nucaps, within its business plan and activity, proposes a continuous commitment to new R&D projects; research and development projects and the technology transfer to market.

In collaboration with the most prestigious technology centers in Navarra and with food and pharmaceutical industries, Nucaps continues researching in order to improve the solutions offered by its technology for an effective and safe oral supply of bioactives and probiotics.

This project counts with the support of the Government of Navarra and the European Union.


Looking for new encapsulation materials

Most nutraceutical products are intended for their oral administration. However, it remains a challenge as these substances usually present low stability within the gut and poor penetration properties directly related to their physico-chemical characteristics (e.g., molecular weight, MW, hydrophilicity, ionised groups, etc.). Moreover, in some cases they also show disgusting organoleptic characteristics.

To overcome these drawbacks and, then, promote the oral absorption and increase the bioavailability of the bioactive compounds, different strategies have been proposed. Among others, the nanoencapsulation in nanocarriers is a very promising strategy as it allows efficient loading of the nutraceuticals inside the carrier thereby protecting the cargo against degradation and promoting a controlled release, masking the odour and flavour of the active product.

In this context, food proteins such as casein, soya and zein fulfil the criteria for an ideal carrier (non-toxic, biocompatible, GRAS status…) among others such as resistance against digestive enzymes, bioadhesive capacities and hydrophobicity, which makes the preparation of colloidal structures easy.

In this context, the main objective of NanoCaps, a project in collaboration with CNTA and University of Navarra, is the design and development of new types of nanoparticles based on natural source materials.

Two strategies are being apply: on the one hand, the project works on the co-encapsulation, and surface decoration of Nucaps patented particles and, on the other hand, new materials for the encapsulation of bioactive compounds are being investigated.

  • Title: NANOCAPS
  • Identification Number: PT032-033 NanoCaps
  • Implementation period: February 2018-November 2019
  • Partners: Centro Nacional de Tecnología y Seguridad Alimentaria (CNTA), Universidad de Navarra (UNAV) y NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY S.L.

This project has been approved by the Government of Navarre in the R&D projects 2018 call and it is co-financed (50%) by the FEDER funds through the Programa Operativo 2014-2020 de Navarra.

This project has received a 50% co-financed grant by the European Regional Development Fund through the Programa Operativo FEDER 2014-2020 de Navarra.


Zein nanoparticles for glycemic control (sugar absortion)

The Nutrition Research Center and the biotechnology company NUCAPS are launching a nutritional intervention study in people with high blood sugar levels, known as prediabetes.

A high level of glucose poses very serious health risks, in addition to causing symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath or stomach pain, it can damage the blood vessels that carry blood to vital organs, which increases the risk of heart disease, strokes, kidney diseases, vision problems and neurological problems.

On the other hand, an uncontrolled level of sugar can develop type 2 diabetes that requires pharmacological treatment mainly with insulin injections and affects both quality of life and longevity.

To date there is no effective treatment, and the only tools we have are: regular physical activity and strict diet control to avoid overweight to try to control glucose levels.

The product that will be tested for 15 weeks, with 60 volunteers, is a vegetable protein from corn, a nutritional supplement of natural origin usually used in food, which will be taken orally in capsules. It is an effective treatment without side effects to prevent and combat metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, and we hope to safely increase both life expectancy and quality of it.

  • Title: GLUCOCAPS, zein nanoparticles for glycemic control (sugar absortion)
  • Identification Number:  0011-1365-2021-000107
  • Implementation period: November 2021-November 2023

This project has been approved and financed by the Government of Navarre in the Strategic R&D projects 2019-2021 call and it is co-financed (50%) by the FEDER funds through the Programa Operativo 2014-2020 de Navarra.

This enterprise has received a 50% co-financed grant by the European Regional Development Fund through the Programa Operativo FEDER 2014-2020 de Navarra.



The main objective of SOWCAPS is to develop a novel feed supplement based on nanotechnology with hepatopancreatic and galactogenic protective properties to reduce pre-weaning mortality in sows and piglets.

This innovative strategy, based on soy protein encapsulation nanotechnology, will improve the health of pigs by strengthening the immune system and optimizing nutritional levels in sows and piglets using natural products and, therefore, guaranteeing greater food safety. Ultimately, SOWCAPS will reduce swine production costs, improve product quality, and care for pig welfare.

  • Title: SOWCAPS
  • Identification Number: CPP2021-008769 SOWCAPS


Development, functional evaluation, and industrial applicability of new plant protein derivatives.

In the project, crops and technologies present in the region will be used to obtain foods that contain proteins with high added value in terms of health, due to their functionality, nutrient bioavailability, and digestibility, such as concentrated, hydrolyzed, and fermented proteins.

In addition to NAGRIFOOD, the project integrates two knowledge centers, the University of Navarra (UNAV) and the National Center for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA) as research leaders, along with 5 entities from the agri-food sector that cover the entire supply chain value, from primary production to food transformation and distribution. The entities participating are SANYGRAN, MONBAKE, NUCAPS, EL CASERIO and GRUPO AN, the latter entity being the project coordinator.
HIDROPEP will be developed over 3 years, having managed to be the only project approved within the call for R&D strategies 2023 in the ALPES CHALLENGE (personalized and sustainable food) and as such, it is being financed by the Government of Navarra.
The main objective is the research of new foods that include vegetable protein derivatives with high added value based on new approaches and technological solutions with application in the agri-food industry. The applicability of these derivatives in the industry and their acceptability by the consumer from an organoleptic point of view will be studied, ensuring that they are tasty, healthy, with high nutritional value, and sustainable. In addition, the project will be accompanied by gender perspective studies and market research as well as the environmental impact of the products derived from the project.

  • Title: HIDROPEP
  • Execution Period: September 2023 – September 2026


Biotechnology for healthy food

The project proposes a research on microbial bioprocesses based on the role and behavior of the intestinal microbiota. Its objective is to obtain fermented foods and microencapsulated, probiotic, postbiotic and symbiotic ingredients (probiotics + prebiotics), with beneficial effects on the regulation of intestinal microbiota, obesity and the prevention of inflammatory processes. Some of the innovations of international scope proposed by the project are the microencapsulation of probiotics capable of overcoming the intestinal tract and being released in the areas with the greatest effect, the production of postbiotics, which would avoid the need to work with live microorganisms or the evaluation of the symbiotic effect of the combination of postbiotics with a prebiotic such as olive polyphenol

The main function of the intestinal microbiota is metabolic, degrading the undigested carbon and protein residues in the small intestine, giving rise to short chain fatty acids and others that modify the intestinal pH, favoring the absorption of trace elements. In addition, it contributes to regulate the metabolism of cholesterol and constitutes a contribution of extra energy to the body, while synthesizing vitamins and metabolizing toxic substances. In addition, the microbiota forms part of the intestinal barrier, preventing the nesting and penetration of pathogens, and modulates the immune system. It has, therefore, a great impact on our health. In fact, it has been observed that deviations from the normal state of the microbiota could be a cause, or at least a factor, of metabolic, immune or degenerative diseases.

Fermented foods and probiotics are gaining interest in recent years for their potential health benefit, most of them related to their influence on the gut microbiota. However, there are still important challenges to solve in order to develop and expand this type of products and favor their consumption.

On the other hand, microorganisms generate, fruit of their metabolism, elements that are of great functional interest: nutrients, postbiotics, bioactive compounds, etc,

The project aims to study and research microbiological bioprocesses both within the human body (those originated by the gut microbiota), and outside, in the fermentation of food or in bioreactors, in order to generate ingredients (probiotic and postbiotic) and foods that are beneficial to health and have a proven health effect

  • Title: Use of biotechnology to obtain healthy ingredients and food (BIOFOOD)
  • Identification Number: 0011-1411-2019-000008
  • Implementation period: July 2019-November 2021

This project has been approved and financed by the Government of Navarre in the Strategic R&D projects 2019-2021 call and it is co-financed (50%) by the FEDER funds through the Programa Operativo 2014-2020 de Navarra.

This enterprise has received a 50% co-financed grant by the European Regional Development Fund through the Programa Operativo FEDER 2014-2020 de Navarra.


Enhancing the bioavailability of resveratrol by nanoencapsulation

Resveratrol (3,5,4-trihydroxystilbene) is a phytoalexin present in natural food products such as grapes, wine, peanuts, and berries with GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) regulatory status.

In the last years, several studies have demonstrated the potential health benefits of resveratrol. Some of these benefits are antioxidizing and anti-atherosclerosis effects, chemoprotective and cardiovascular protective effects and the capacity to inhibit platelet aggregation. However, resveratrol exhibits low stability, low water solubility and it is rapidly metabolized in vivo, which contributes to a limited cell absorption upon oral administration and therefore a very low bioavailability. Therefore, the therapeutically potential of resveratrol only will be achieve if the limitations tied to its low bioavailability are overcome.

In the last years, interest in nanotechnology has grown considerably, and researchers have investigated its use in increasing the clinical efficacy of natural products, such as resveratrol. Zein nanoparticles promote a 20-fold increase of resveratrol´s bioavailability in rats. Furthermore, the efficacy of this nanoparticles was proved in a mouse model of endotoxic shock. These nanoparticles were able to diminish the endotoxic symptoms induces by the ip administration of LPS.

In the light of these reports, Nucaps, in collaboration with Idifarma, is exploring the feasibility of the oral administration in humans of resveratrol-loaded zein nanoparticles. For this purpose, zein nanoparticles are being transfer from a laboratory scale to pilot and industrial scale and the hypothesis proved in rats, that these kind of nanocarriers can increase the bioavailability of resveratrol will be tested in humans.

  • Title: NANOCAPS
  • Identification Number: 0011-1365-2018-000285
  • Implementation period: February 2018-December 2019
  • Partners: NUCAPS Nanotechnology, S.L., IDIFARMA desarrollos farmacéuticos S.L.

This project has been approved by the Government of Navarre in the R&D projects 2018 call and it is co-financed (50%) by the FEDER funds through the Programa Operativo 2014-2020 de Navarra.

This enterprise has received a 50% co-financed grant by the European Regional Development Fund through the Programa Operativo FEDER 2014-2020 de Navarra.


Microencapsulated Enzybiotics

Development of innovative microencapsulated products as effective and safe oral administration system of new enzybiotics (enzymes as an alternative to antibiotics to combat pathogenic bacterial infections) and that confer advanced functional and technological characteristics with a high impact in the fight against multidrug-resistant intestinal bacteria E. coli.

The bacterium “Escherichia coli” (E. coli) normally resides in the intestines of humans and animals, some E. coli are pathogenic, that is, they produce diseases, and are responsible for intestinal infections that cause diarrhea or urinary infections, being in some cases even fatal.

E. coli has become the first cause of nosocomial infection and the inadequate use of antibiotics in urinary infections has caused that E. coli has developed antimicrobial resistance.

Gastrointestinal infections are one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality among infants and children. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, the probability that a child dies before age 5 for these causes can reach 50%.

Thus, the development of new alternative antimicrobial agents and new treatment approaches to eliminate resistant microorganisms and to minimize the appearance of new antibacterial resistance has become an urgent issue.

  • Title: PROTEOCAPS: Improvement of the bioavailability of enzymes that can be used as new antibiotics against intestinal human infections caused by Escherichia coli.
  • Identification Number: 0011-1365-2019-000140
  • Implementation period: April 2019-December 2020
  • Partners: NUCAPS Nanotechnology, S.L., IKAN Biotech S.L.

This project has been approved by the Government of Navarre in the R&D projects 2019 call and it is co-financed (50%) by the FEDER funds through the Programa Operativo 2014-2020 de Navarra.

This enterprise has received a 50% co-financed grant by the European Regional Development Fund through the Programa Operativo FEDER 2014-2020 de Navarra.


Enhancing the vaccinal immune response through the use of microencapsulated probiotics

Co-encapsulation of probiotics and vaccines to create a new product for human and animal health. This product derives from the synergy between probiotics and vaccines.

Sometimes vaccines do not have a good effect, due to problems with intestinal bacteria, being especially critical in the first years of life. An imbalance in the intestinal flora can predispose the immune system to not respond efficiently to vaccines.

NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY will investigate a solution in the design of microcapsules that contain the vaccine together with probiotics to help them have the proper effect.

  • Title: INMUNOCAPS, Enhancing the vaccinal immune response through the use of microencapsulated probiotics. Co-encapsulation of probiotics and vaccines to create a new product for human health.
  • Identification number: 0011-1408-2020-000029
  • Implementation period: 2020 – 2023
  • Partners: NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY (Proyecto financiado por convocatoria de Doctorandos industriales 2020 del Gobierno de Navarra y cofinanciado con fondos FEDER).



NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY is going to develop innovative microencapsulates of probiotic bacteria based on the use of allergen-free vegetable proteins that give them advanced technological characteristics for food, nutricosmetic, and nutraceutical sectors.

This project has as a starting point the previous developments based on dietary proteins in the NANOCAPS, BIOFOOD, and INMUNOCAPS projects.

The project falls within the “Health” sector of the S3 smart specialization strategy, in the “Biotechnology” strategic technology, and responds to the challenge “Commitment to healthy eating”. This project will allow Nucaps, the first company in the world to encapsulate probiotics using natural proteins, to have new methods to encapsulate microorganisms, becoming an international benchmark.

  • Title: BIOCAPS, probiotics encapsulated in vegetable protein and free of allergens.
  • Execution Period: 2021 – 2023
  • Entity / s executing the project: NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY.


Applications of the multi-omic study of the microbiota to develop innovative biotechnological solutions in the area of ​​health.

μBiomics (microBiomics) proposes the design, development, and implementation of a multi-meta-omics strategy that allows characterizing, at a level of detail never done before and in a completely new way, the role of the microbiota in different pathological processes (digestive, autoimmune, oncological), as well as their contribution to the response, in terms of efficacy and safety, of patients to different clinical/therapeutic interventions. From an experimental point of view, microbiota samples of different origins from patients will be analyzed using a combination of meta-omics technologies. These techniques will generate a huge amount of data that will be integrated, not only at the omic level but with other clinical data, using bioinformatics tools.

The ultimate goal of the project is to identify bacterial communities, and enzymatic activities associated with them, that may be useful for the design of biotechnological-based therapeutic strategies.

NUCAPS joins the main hospital centers and scientific research centers and teams in Navarra, public and private, using the most advanced technologies (nanotechnology, Big Data, Machine Learning, and five omic technologies: 16S, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics, and metametabolomics) to generate and analyze close to a Petabyte of data to give an effective response and create therapies based on the knowledge generated for diseases related to the microbiota in order to improve the health and quality of life of patients with these digestive, autoimmune pathologies and oncology, which currently do not have clinical solutions and adequate treatments for their diseases.

It will contribute significantly to the intelligent specialization of Navarra in the area of ​​Biotechnology applied to health challenges.

  • Title: Applications of the multi-omic study of the microbiota to the development of innovative biotechnological solutions in the area of ​​health
  • Identification number: 2021.059
  • Execution Period: April 2021 – December 2023
  • Executing entity/ies of the project: Foundation for Applied Medical Research (FIMA), Clínica Universidad de Navarra (CUN), Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra (CHN), Miguel Servet Foundation (FMS), University of Navarra (CIMA LAB Diagnostics, Nutrition Research Center), ADITECH, NUCAPS and the National Center for Technology and Food Safety (CNTA).

The project has been approved and financed by the Government of Navarra, it is an R&D project considered to be strategic and it falls within the SIBERIA III Challenge. Innovative Solutions in Biotechnology for Energy, Health Challenges, Industry, and Agri-food, having obtained the best technical score of all those presented.

Better Fish

The first plant-based fish fillet made from fermented by-products of the food industry and microalgae.

Participation in a European R&D project (Eurostars call) to develop the first vegetable-based fish fillet made from fermented by-products of the food industry and microalgae.

In addition to Nucaps, the UK company Better Nature, the Latvian Institute specializes in fermented foods (Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies- TFTAK), and the Spanish company Neoalgae participates in this project.

With a duration of 3 years, a total budget of more than 1.6 million euros has been allocated.

  • Identification number: CIIP-20212020
  • Execution period: 3 years
  • Partners: NUCAPS Nanotechnology, S.L., Better Nature, TFTAK & Neoalgae.


The CIRCFOOD project aims to research and develop the recovery of waste and by-products of plant origin generated in Navarra, for reuse in the food chain. The aim is to create products with high added value -antioxidants, fibers, or proteins- that can become sustainable raw materials, in addition to providing nutritional and functional properties to food products.

Valorization is a collaborative process that promotes the transition of Navarra’s agri-food sector toward a circular economy. The project consortium is made up of agri-food companies that generate vegetable by-products (URZANTE, IAN, HARIVENASA), technology SMEs specializing in the development of natural and functional ingredients (INGREDALIA, ISANATUR, and NUCAPS) and technology centers with experience in the production of ingredients and food (CNTA and AIN). With the project results, we will be able to manufacture oils enriched with olive antioxidants, functional flours with alternative proteins, or prepared foods with better nutritional profiles, all with natural, vegetable, and sustainable ingredients.

The Government of Navarra finances the CIRCFOOD project in its call for Strategic R&D Projects 2022 within the ALPES challenge.


Title: Valuation of Agri-Food Byproducts.

Identification number: 0011-1411-2023-000069

Execution Period: 2023–2026

Executing entity/ies of the project: NUCAPS NANOTECHNOLOGY S.L., AIN (Navarra Industry Association), CSIC, MOA, OLEOFAT, FERTINAGRO, TRASA, ISONATUR, INGREDALIA.

The Government of Navarra approved the project in the call for aid to carry out Strategic R&D projects in 2023 is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the ERDF 2014-2020 Operational Program of Navarra.


The SYNTHBIOMICS project seeks to make visible the potential of Synthetic Biology in key areas for the economic development of Navarra. Synthetic biology combines principles of biology, chemistry, engineering and computing to create tools and techniques that allow living organisms to be manipulated and reprogrammed to perform specific tasks.

SYNTHBIOMICS proposes the development and implementation of a biotechnological strategy with three fundamental axes of action: the design and synthesis of a synthetic library of nanobodies, the generation of biosensors for the detection of contaminants in food, and the fixation of C1 compounds for the production of chemical intermediates that can be converted into advanced fuels and other bioproducts.

Reference: 0011-1411-2023-000035
Start date: September 1, 2023
End date: December 31, 2025
Financier: Government of Navarra
Nature of the project: Regional