Funding will help CropBiome to carry out trials in Europe’s largest grain markets and bring its products to market by mid-2025.
Agritech player CropBiome has raised €1.3m in funding as part of an oversubscribed funding round from Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) Singapore and HBAN Bloom Equity syndicates.
CropBiome is using plant microbes to treat crop seeds, which will produce healthier plants and reduce the amount fertiliser required.
“By 2025, we expect that our success in Europe will enable us to expand into North and South America, Australasia and other cereal-producing regions and countries”
Field plot trials and product application development will enable CropBiome to go to market in mid-2025, with revenues expected to reach €5M by the end of that year.
CropBiome, a joint spin-out from UCD and TCD, is planning to aggressively tackle Europe’s grain market, which is experiencing supply chain issues as a result of the war in Ukraine.
A combination of field and greenhouse crop trials have shown that the seed dressings can improve crops’ performance in drought conditions and when fertiliser use is reduced.
This results in reduced chemical inputs, enhanced crop resilience and improved soil health – all providing targeted economic benefits to farmers. Currently, CropBiome has a biobank of more than 600 microbes, which the company is testing to determine their impact on stress resistance, nutrient use efficiency and overall crop yields.
The funding will help CropBiome, headquartered at NovaUCD in Dublin, to grow from its current team of eight to 12 by year-end 2023. The roles will cover laboratory and field scientists, as well as business development personnel. They will be essential in helping CropBiome to partner, and carry out trials, with major seed distributors in Europe’s largest grain markets – the UK, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Germany, France and Spain.
The company expects that this work will enable it to bring its products to market by mid-2025, with revenues expected to reach €5m by the end of that year.
In addition to the seed funding, together with UCD and other partners, in 2021, CropBiome successfully submitted a €1.5M Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) grant application. The Fund is run by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. CropBiome secured €500,000 of this against proposed expenditure. In 2020, it was a regional winner of InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition.
“Pressure is mounting on food producers across the world to move to a more sustainable food model,” said Sean Daly, CEO of CropBiome. “A key aim of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy is to reduce chemical use in agriculture – including fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides. It also targets the reduction of nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility. The European Commission has indicated that a reduction in fertiliser use of at least 20% by 2030 will be needed to achieve these targets across the EU.
“CropBiome’s product development and market entry strategy is aligned to help meet these targets. Initially, we will aggressively tackle the European grain market – which represents a significant proportion of the world’s total grain production – with our unique sustainable biological solutions, which are the result of five years of extensive scientific research by our founders Prof. Fiona Doohan at UCD and Prof. Trevor Hodkinson and Dr Brian Murphy at TCD. We aim to enter the market at a similar price point as existing chemical seed coating products with our biological sustainable alternative and believe that this will give us a major competitive advantage.
“By 2025, we expect that our success in Europe will enable us to expand into North and South America, Australasia and other cereal-producing regions and countries,” Daly said.
Main image at top: Niamh Sterling, HBAN, and Sean Daly, CropBiome