Wayakit inaugurates pilot production facility

​KAUST startup Wayakit has inaugurated its first production pilot plant in Saudi Arabia with Mexican ambassador Aníbal Gómez in attendance as an honorary guest. The plant will increase the startup’s production capacity by up to 20,000 liters of cleaning and disinfection bio-formulations per day.

“It is with great honor that I participate in the opening of this Wayakit production plant,” Ambassador Gómez said. “Wayakit is clear evidence of the importance of educational mobility—a key component in the creation and success of these two outstanding KAUST students, Luisa and Sandra, who have developed an innovative technology capable of eliminating COVID in seconds. Not only have their results made an impact at the international level, but they have also contributed to the fight against the pandemic.”

(From left to right) Luisa Javier and Sandra Medina, Wayakit founders.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a renewed emphasis on cleaning and disinfection habits. Consumption of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and wipes increased dramatically as the pandemic began in 2020. In Saudi Arabia, the cleaning and disinfection market is dominated by trusted brands, where disinfecting power is prioritized over safety.

According to research, consumers bring home around 58 liters of cleaning and disinfectant products per year, on average. These products are often toxic cleaning compounds that can cause a range of health concerns, and present unwanted environmental costs. Wayakit hopes to change consumer choices through the production of healthy products, and delivery of those products with less waste and in more environmentally friendly ways.

“Wayakit is a startup that we are very proud of,” said Kevin Cullen, vice president for Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST. “The team were innovative and resourceful early on in the pandemic as they quickly shifted from household cleaning supplies to disinfectants. Their partnership with Swissport is an important example of how KAUST startups can partner with the industry to deploy cutting-edge technology. And, as a chemist myself, I can see that the potential for this product is enormous.”

(From left to right) Chirs Sealey, Vice President of Community Life, Sulaiman M. Al-Thunaya, Vice President of Government Affairs, Aníbal Gómez, Mexican ambassador in KSA, Dr. Kevin Cullen, Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development (I&ED), Sandra Medina, Luisa Javier, Wayakit founders, and Hani Al Saleh (Wayakit’s Angel Investor).

Wayakit develops natural cleaning formulations bioengineered by women in science. The founders understand that efficacy does not need to compromise safety and health. The new pilot plant will accelerate the reach of two products available in the Saudi Market: a laundry spray stain and smell remover that reduces the water and energy consumption needs of laundry, and a surface disinfectant and multipurpose cleaner already in use on international aircraft in the three main airports in Saudi Arabia.

The production plant aims to satisfy the increasing national demand for cleaning and disinfection products. The manufacturing facility supports the National Industrial Strategy of the Vision 2030 by building a sustainable and competitive plant for products that help tackle the transmission of communicable diseases, an important benefit for both the national economy and the health of citizens.