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Sea-More-Yield: A Blue Biotechnology Solution for the Reduction of Pod Shatter in Bio-Oil Producing Crops

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SEA-MORE-YIELD (Sea-More-Yield: A Blue Biotechnology Solution for the Reduction of Pod Shatter in Bio-Oil Producing Crops)

Reporting period: 2014-11-01 to 2015-04-30

The objective of the Sea-More-Yield proposal is to commercialise a disruptive blue biotechnology solution to address a bio-oil crop productivity challenge. Three years of independant trials have consistently demonstrated a 20% increase in yield over the current market leading product. Sea-More-Yield powered by Plant Signal Induction (PSI) is a novel patent pending blue biotech innovation to reduce pod shatter in Oilseed Rape (OSR) delivering more oil at the farm gate if implemented across the EU-27. End result, more food and energy security, a theme underscored by Horizon 2020. Global Oilseed Rape (OSR) production for 2014/15 is expected to reach 69.1 million metric tons and is now the second largest oilseed crop after soybean. Uses include crushing to produce rapeseed oil, animal feed and biodiesel. With a global population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, OSR is a key crop for human and animal consumption and is central to mitigating a future food and/or energy security crisis. However, OSR due to its relatively recent domestication suffers from a number of defects which limits its success as a modern day crop. Fully mature pods of oilseed rape (Brassica napus) are extremely prone to opening, resulting in seed loss (pod shatter). Typical losses vary between 15% and 25% of the potential yield, but reductions of up to 70% were estimated in seasons when weather conditions were poor prior to and during harvest. A reduction in the tendency of pods to opening is the number one trait sought by farmers and would serve to increase the proportion of the yield recovered by the combine harvester and thereby improve production efficiency and sustainability of OSR as alternative food and energy source. To address this industry limiting problem, Sea-More-Yield offers a unique blue technology that modulates OSR pod physiology to control unsynchronised pod shatter.

Sea-More-Yield represents an excellent opportunity for the H2020 SME instrument as it will launch the participating SME Brandon Products into new markets, promote growth, and create high returns of investment. Sea-More-Yield is aligned with the call topic supporting SMEs efforts for the development - deployment and market replication of innovative biotechnology solutions for blue growth. Sea-More-Yield is a perfect example of such an opportunity. The basis of the Sea-More-Yield technology is the seaweed bioresource used in biostimulant manufacture, which is a complex and unique resource whose chemical, biochemical and biological properties provides major undiscovered potential. The main beneficiaries of the development of Sea-More-Yield will be Brandon Products; Growers of OSR, Oil processors, Product distributors, Consumers and the environment.

The objectives of phase 1 of the Sea-More-Yield Project were:
1. Completing a risk assessment of the opportunity through compilation of a detailed SWOT analysis.
2. Establishing a strategy for dealing with foreground and background IP for development of the technology.
3. Partner search and initial engagement with potential partners for commercialisation.
4. Establishing technology development needs (including registration requirements) to facilitate successful market launch.
5. Drafting of Business Plan
A significant body of work has been completed during phase 1 of the project. An in-depth assessment of the potential for Sea-More-Yield in the market has been carried out, which has confirmed the original projections for this disruptive blue biotechnology solution. A survey of distributors and growers revealed the method and timing of application of Sea-More-Yield technology to the crop to be in-keeping with current agronomical practice and would be widely adopted by Oil Seed Rape (OSR) growers. A SWOT analysis of Sea-More-Yield revealed it to have significant potential in competing with other technologies on offer for reducing pod-shatter in OSR and other pod crops. The sustainable and environmentally friendly approach of Sea-More-Yield was a particularly prominent characteristic relative to competing technologies. A review of the future technological advancements of the Sea-More-Yield technology was conducted and has led to a clear roadmap of the future developments required to strengthen the value proposition for this blue biotechnology solution. Key R&D and commercial partners have committed to the next phase of development of Sea-More-Yield, a truly ground-breaking blue biotechnology solution.
The main beneficiaries of the development of Sea-More-Yield will be:
(a) Growers of OSR who will gain from increased net margins, increased yield, increased quality premiums.
(b) Oil processors who will have a larger quantity of high quality oil
(c) Product distributors who will have a disruptive technology with a proven mode of action
(d) Consumers who will have a predictable harvest which will give a predictable production costs = more stable pricing.
(e) The environment which will be exposed to less agrochemicals and fertiliser and will benefit from more sustainable biofuel production.

The Sea-More-Yield proposal epitomises the strategy of Brandon Products which essentially focuses on high value crops facing particular productivity challenges which have not been fully addressed by the market to-date. The pod shatter issue is a natural target within that strategy. The technology platform is based on the central theme of powered by nature, proven by science and performs in the field. The Sea-More-Yield proposal is perfectly aligned to this platform. It will equip Brandon with key product differentiators including defined mode of actions that underpin productivity gains of greater than 20%. Thus creating a compelling value proposition that can drive sales of branded product (>gross margin) and support growth.