Biotech firm Bionema has announced the completion of a £500,000 equity investment, led by an overseas private investor with co-investment from the Development Bank of Wales, Swansea Innovations, Swansea University, and existing investors.
The Swansea University-based biotech company specialises in the development and sale of bio-pesticides in the agri-food sector.
The investment will be used to develop organic pesticides that will reduce the use of chemical pesticide for crop pest control.
It is estimated that crop pests cause more than £50 billion crop damage worldwide annually. Bioinsecticide products kill harmful crop pests in different cropping systems, leaving fruit and vegetables residue free.
Market research forecasts that the bio-pesticide market will be worth more than $8.82 billion by 2022.
Bionema will now recruit three new staff to further develop and register its bioinsecticide products that will control major insect pests of soft fruits, including strawberries.
It already has a number of products on the market, and hopes to launch its new products by 2021.
Dr Minshad Ali Ansari is founder and MD of Bionema. He said: “we are really pleased that the Development Bank of Wales, Swansea Innovation, and our overseas investor, Mrs Shahnan Chowdhury, recognise our potential and our achievements to date as we capitalise on the industry drive to reduce dependence on chemical pesticides with safe and sustainable solutions.
“Their funding will enable us to further develop our biopesticide products and take advantage of the growing organic market.
Dr Ansari also said: “We are also being supported by the Welsh Government’s SMART Cymru programme (£1,000,000), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund to progress novel ideas through Research Development and Innovation.”
Mrs Chowdhury has extensive experience of sales and marketing in Asia. She said: “We love organic food and believe firmly in the potential to combat crop pests with natural products.
“We are therefore very pleased and excited to support Bionema with its future plans.”
Dr Gerry Ronan is MD of Swansea Innovations and Director of the AgorIP programme. He said: “Bionema has developed a natural solution that will combat major crop pests.
“This is the future of crop protection, as the power of natural microorganisms is slowly coming to reality and filling the gap where chemical pesticide has been banned.”
Phil Barnes, Investment Executive at Development Bank Wales, said the investment would allow Bionema to develop its products and take advantage of the growing demands for organic food.
“Working with Swansea University and Swansea Innovation, we have developed an investment package for Bionema that will support the research, development, and commercialisation of bio-pesticide products for the horticulture, turf, landscape and forestry sectors.
“With over 30 years’ experience, we wish Doctor Ansari and his team every success.”
Rachel Hillier of Capital Law advised on the deal. She added: “We are delighted to have assisted Bionema with this initial investment that will allow the company to meet increasing market demand for green pesticides.”
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