Crop Enhancement Company BioLumic To Invest $7 Million In Business

Crop Enhancement Company BioLumic To Invest $7 Million In Business

Crop Enhancement Company BioLumic To Invest $7 Million In Business

JILL GALLOWAY

March 29, 2018

BioLumic chief executive Warren Bebb and founder Jason Wargent have received some significant financial backing.

BioLumic chief executive Warren Bebb and founder Jason Wargent have received some significant financial backing.

Palmerston North-based company BioLumic, which has developed a world first system of using ultraviolet (UV) light on crops, will invest $7 million to grow the business.

Chief executive Warren Bebb said the company would be able to employ more people as a result of the funds from a group of American and local investors.

He said a few days of light improves growth development, more consistent yields and disease resistance in seedlings.

The patents existed and it was charged out per seedling, but while the system was being developed he would not say how much each treated seedling cost.

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The light system was being trialled and developed in a Massey University-owned glass house at its plant growth unit.

"We are already in large scale trials with growers in Mexico, the United Kingdom and California and achieving yield gains of up to 22 per cent."

Warren Bebb, BioLumic chief executive, in the glasshouse where seedlings are treated with UV light.  |  PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Bebb said just one treatment made a huge difference to plants, making them more robust to wet, as well hot, sunny weather.

He said the exciting thing about the investment as it would allow them to further ramp up the company, which currently has 10 employees.

"It is a great connection for us. They are strategic partners but it also puts us in touch with customers."

"We have an agronomist in Mexico at the moment, but this will allow us to have another one based in the United States, who will cover Europe as well. And it also allows us to employ more engineering staff ."

Bebb said the money would allow BioLumic to do more research and development.

He said the investment would be used to aggressively expand the BioLumic team in both New Zealand and its US office in California, and to intensify the global deployment of its UV technologies.

The investment will lead to more job opportunities and research and development.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

BioLumic was founded by Dr Jason Wargent, a world-renowned photobiologist specialising in UV/plant interactions, and spun out of leading AgTech research from Massey University in Palmerston North with support from local incubator Building Clever Companies (BCC) and seed funding from MIGAngels. The technology is the result of more than a decade of Wargent's research into UV photomorphogenesis, a process whereby a precise UV treatment induces plant root and leaf development and activates secondary metabolism.

It is focused on lettuce, broccoli, strawberry and tomato seedlings which are kept in a glasshouse and dosed regularly with UV light.

Agtech is one of the hottest global growth markets, and New Zealand is already a world leader in agricultural production. It is estimated that more than 8.6 billion people will populate the planet by 2030, and the world will need to produce 50 per cent more food by 2050.

"It is an exciting development but they we would not have got anywhere without help from the BCC and  and the Manawatu Investment Group," Bebb said.

The contributions came from Finistere Ventures, Radicle Growth, Rabobank's recently-launched Food and Agri-Innovation Fund, along with New Zealand investors that have already contributed money.

 - Stuff

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