Haelixa has developed a way of using strands of DNA, encapsulated in micro-casings, to trace a range of products and resources along their journeys.

By using unique strands of DNA within tiny casings, Haelixa is able to trace products at any stage of their supply chain, as well as identify when products have been diluted through blending. The miniscule DNA strands are wrapped in protective casings and can be applied to both fluid or solid products. The traces are harmless and their high durability allows them to survive harsh industrial processing such as bleaching.

With each tracer comes a unique product fingerprint, which can be read at any stage either on-site or at Haelixa’s laboratory. The concentration of the applied tracer also provides information since it can reveal whether or not the product has been tampered with or diluted along the supply chain.

The ETH Zurich spin-off company has so far applied the technology for tracing gemstones, with DNA markers being applied to raw gemstones at the mines. These markers can then be identified later as proof of origin. This can help suppliers  to avoid purchasing stones from sources associated with conflict.  They have recently launched a solution to track cotton and other fashion items to increase the transparency in the industry.

Why you should care

Increasing the transparency of supply chains can help improve various aspects of sustainability such as human rights, labour standards, and environmental progress. Gemstone mining for example can be associated with human rights abuses and conflict, which could be avoided with more information about provenance.

How the Global Goals are addressed


Gender Equality

Women make up most of the workforce in many global supply chains segments, such as garment manufacturing. Increased transparency would promote women’s economic empowerment and equal working conditions.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Having more confidence in the origin of products can help to avoid purchases linked to environmental degradation or problematic social conditions.

Responsible Consumption and Production

Improved traceability can help to identify products produced more sustainably from the rest of the crowd, which can be difficult in opaque global supply chains.