Photo of Ramón De Hoyos Cantú

Energy & sustainability

Ramón De Hoyos Cantú

Its microalgae capture CO2 and produce natural molecules useful for cosmetics while cleaning water.

Year Honored


Latin America

Hails From

More than 80% of wastewater is untreated discharge, polluting water sources, according to the UN. At the same time, 3.5 billion people lack safe sanitation. One of the Sustainable Development Goals is to improve water quality by halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing its recycling and safe reuse worldwide by 2030. Only 41% of Mexican municipalities did some type of treatment on at least part of their wastewater, reports the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

Faced with this environmental and public health problem, Ramón Alejandro de Hoyos Cantú, a graduate in Genomic Biotechnology from the University of Nuevo León, Mexico, decided to take inspiration from nature to find a solution. His answer was to use microalgae capable of cleaning water, capturing the CO2 that warms our planet while synthesizing molecules with high economic value through his biotech start-up, ALIS. For this commitment to the circular bioeconomy and sustainability, MIT Technology Review in Spanish has selected De Hoyos as one of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2023.

"Microalgae breathe CO2 and release oxygen. By feeding on pollutants in the water, they clean it and generate high-value molecules useful for the cosmetics and food industry," explains De Hoyos, adding, "Our containers with the microorganisms can be used to restore any body of water while achieving valuable substances for the market."

ALIS thus attacks the lack of water recirculation due to poor purification with natural circular bioeconomy systems that reduce water pollution and favor its reuse. In addition, with this initiative De Hoyos provides natural alternatives to the colorants and antioxidants used by the cosmetics and food industry. "Our pink extract replaces five toxic elements that are used in numerous products that we ingest and put on our bodies," he adds.

The biotech company already has clients interested in its products and is working with public institutions to achieve clean water in Mexico. After certifying its processes, De Hoyos seeks to expand the company on a large scale in all continents to increase the availability of drinking water and achieve healthier and more sustainable cosmetics and food.