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Liquid biopesticide for integrated and effective pest control

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FUNGISEI (Liquid biopesticide for integrated and effective pest control)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

FUNGISEI aims to provide a solution for the current challenges the biopesticide industry is facing.
• Regulatory pressures are one of the strongest driver for biopesticide development. The European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides from 2013 to 2015 may well drive many of the region’s growers to seek biopesticide alternatives for protecting their crops. Regulation 1107/2009 encourages the use of less harmful active substances and FUNGISEI complies with this challenge since it is totally chemical-free. Also, maximum levels of pesticide residues in food and feed are being promoted by the European Union (EC 396/2005). In terms of chemical pesticide residue reduction in food products, retailers are promoting it to meet the growing demand for organic food (Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007). FUNGISEI does not contain chemical pesticides, meets ZERO RESIDUE criteria; and therefore, it is aligned with the “R-free” global system approach based on the sustainable production of food products from the raw material to the final consumed product.
• Ease-of-handling attributes like low-to-no re-entry intervals and post-harvest intervals also drive adoption of biopesticides, mainly by serving as a stark alternative to existing synthetic options and their use restrictions.
• The emerging resistance in pest organisms is driving the use of effective biocontrol chemicals to safeguard crops. In this sense, FUNGISEI provides the necessary microbial stability and has a shelf life of two years.
• Exceedingly high costs associated with developing synthetic crop protection chemistries are another driver for biopesticide development. Typically, a novel synthetic requires $250 million and nine years for development and regulatory approval while a biopesticide needs less than $10 million and four years for the same process. As a, less expensive and quicker development process, biopesticide R&D is more attractive to start-ups and small companies with limited research budgets. As a direct result, start-ups in the biopesticide space have proliferated, creating a competitive and cutting-edge arena for innovations.
• The global biopesticides market is evident from the mergers and acquisitions by the industry giants. The acquisition of the two top companies AgraQuest and Prophyta by Bayer CropScience is one of such example and has helped Bayer in making a significant impact on the biopesticides business sector. After launching two products Kodiak® Concentrate and Serenade SOIL® in 2014, the company plans to launch Requiem™ by the end of 2017.
• Demand for organic food products. The demand for food products not treated with chemicals is clearly growing year after year and is expected to continue growing at a rate of 8.64%, with 7% of the total crop protection market in 2023. FUNGISEI is aligned with this challenge since it meets organic agriculture requirements.
• Biological seed treatment market is expected to grow at a higher rate in the crop protection industry. Increased demand for food has led to an increase in the demand for seeds; and therefore, the market growth for biological seed treatment. Biocontrol seed treatments are a small segment, but expected to grow at a faster pace than any other segment due to government encouragement for reducing the usage of agrochemicals. FUNGISEI is aligned with this challenge because provides this type of products.
• The future opportunity for companies lies in the increasing registrations of biopesticides in various regional markets. The EPA requires fewer data and provides a simpler registration process. As a result, more companies are expected to take a voluntary step towards increasing their biopesticides portfolio. Also, the increasing awareness about the product advantages among the growers, along with the ease of access, will further drive the market growth.

The main aim of this project is to perform a feasibility study identifying the applications with the highest business potential that guarantee best value for money principles when investing in the registration process required for the commercialisation of biopesticides. Our company is interested in launching FUNGISEI at European level and we have previously identified more than 20 potential applications including the treatment of botrytis, mildew and powdery mildew on vine and table grapes, botrytis, mildew and bacteria on tomatoes and cucumbers, Monilia sp. on stone fruits like peaches, Venturia pyrina and Venturia inaequalis on seed fruit like apples, and botrytis on strawberries and other berries. Other significant issues to be evaluated in the feasibility study are the market barriers associated with biopesticides, such as a price sensitivity analysis versus traditional pesticides and the perception about the technological robustness and practical understanding of end-users.
Over the last months of execution, the objectives of the feasibility study (FS) have been fully achieved. We have carried out different studies addressed to proving the feasibility of FUNGISEI both as a product and as a highly profitable business. In order to do this, we have deeply assessed an evaluated the main needs of our business project, completed with intensive desk research, laboratory tests, market analysis and data collected through contacts and interviews with potential buyers and distributors of our product.
Specifically, during the execution of Phase 1:
- We have carried out a detailed market analysis, stating the size and main characteristics of the biopesticide market and identifying the most relevant crops and geographical areas to apply FUNGISEI.
- We have analyzed the main technical gaps of our solution and identified the main factors for making it reach the commercialization stage.
- We have further designed a go-to-market roadmap and international commercialization strategy for penetrating in our target markets, stablishing different stages, marketing paces and sales models in each case.
- We have updated our financial plan and assess the investments needed for Phase 2, building a clear and fully market oriented innovation roadmap for phase 2 and beyond.
(i) Same effectiveness against pests but with a lower concentration of its active agent. The FUNGISEI formulation has been compared to Serenade Optimum in its treatment of blight in potatoes and bacterial spot in tomato with similar statistical effectiveness but with a concentration which is 100 times lower.
(ii) Cheaper treatment costs. Higher effectiveness means a lower dose for field treatments. In relation to this, 2 kg of FUNGISEI per hectare are usually needed when other liquid biopesticides need 8 kg/ha (Serenade ASO and Companion Liquid).
(iii) Different format. Most of the current biopesticides are commercialised in powder form since the active agent is more stable. However, the specific formula of FUNGISEI guarantees a stable product for two years. Liquid formats such as soluble and suspension concentrates prevent problems occurring with equipment, application and human handling.
(iv) FUNGISEI is a chemical-free formula. Aqueous biopesticides are prone to microbial spoilage and thus chemical biocides are added to them. For instance, Serenade ASO (Bayer CropScience) incorporates 1,2-Benzisothiazol-3(2H)-one which is considered highly toxic to aquatic organisms on an acute basis. Moreover, this substance is not listed in the approved pesticides for organic farming (Annex II of Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008).

Worth developing. The technical advantages of FUNGISEI over other solutions make it worth developing. The product is formulated with a biopesticide of microbial origin and it is totally free of chemicals. It is formulated in liquid form which makes it easier for farmers to apply and more effective. Moreover, the cost of the new product is the same as that of conventional pesticides, and is more competitive than similar solutions. FUNGISEI caters for new market trends related to organic agriculture and ZERO residues of pesticides in crops. Moreover, FUNGISEI is seen as a different product compared to other commercial biopesticides. FUNGISEI offers farmers a new product for some cultivars for which legislative restrictions are narrowing the application of conventional pesticide treatments (e.g. Imidacloprid, benzovindiflupir).