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Kiwi Agtech Company Biolumic Secures US$5m Funding

Kiwi Agtech Company Biolumic Secures US$5m Funding for World’s First UV Crop Enhancement System
Investors back revolutionary solution to escalating global demand

Palmerston North, New Zealand BioLumic, creator of the world’s first crop-yield enhancement system using UV light, today announces the close of US$5 million [NZ$6.5m] in Series A funding.

This significant round of financial backing comes from leading global AgTech investors Finistere Ventures and Radicle Growth acceleration fund, along with Rabobank’s recently-launched Food & Agri Innovation Fund and existing investors from across New Zealand.

Addressing the global need for increased agricultural crop yields, BioLumic treats seedlings and seeds with its proprietary ultraviolet light systems. Its patented technology precisely applies UV light treatments to deliver long-term crop benefits — including improved crop consistency, increased yield and disease resistance.

Already in commercial trials with large-scale produce growers around the globe, BioLumic has worked with large-scale produce growers and processors in United Kingdom, California and Mexico achieving yield gains of up to 22 percent. Further commercial trials are underway in Spain and the United Kingdom.

“Light is an extremely powerful biological tool that can safely manipulate plants without the concerns associated with genetic modification or chemical usage” BioLumic CEO Warren Bebb says. “BioLumic is the only company using light as an ag treatment at the beginning of a plant’s life. Exposure to a short-duration treatment of UV-enriched light at a critical stage in a plant’s development turns on characteristics to help the seed or seedling more effectively defend itself against disease or pest attacks, and more efficiently use water and nutrients from the soil for its entire lifespan.”

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 BCC and seed funding from MIGAngels. The technology is the result of more than a decade of Dr. Wargent’s research into UV photomorphogenesis, a process whereby aprecise UV treatment induces plant root and leaf development and activates secondary metabolism.

BioLumic’s growing team of scientists and engineers are now translating Wargent’s scientific discoveries into commercial products that will reshape crop-growing around the world.

Initially focused on lettuce, broccoli, strawberry and tomato seedlings, BioLumic will also use the recent funding to accelerate the development and commercialisation of its seed-focused technology, expanding into row crop and vegetable seeds.

The investment will also be used to aggressively expand the BioLumic team in both New Zealand and its U.S. office in California, and to intensify the global deployment of its UV technologies.

The company’s work made them an ideal fit for investment, Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner of Finistere Ventures, says.

“We actively invest in data-driven technology startups who are changing the paradigm for sustainable AgTech from around the globe. Using UV treatments to complement traditional chemicals or biologicals, BioLumic will give farmers a new way to enhance crop yield and vigor by activating stronger plant characteristics with the power of 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.

Ag players are seeking to find more sustainable ways to meet the growing global food production demands says Netherlands-based Richard O’Gorman, director, Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund.

”BioLumic has the potential to significantly enhance the value of produce for growers by enabling higher yield and greater crop uniformity – in particular in geographies where Rabo has a strong history of serving farmers.”

Radicle Growth CEO and managing director Kirk Haney describes BioLumic as a dynamic team with novel technology relevant to a rapidly-growing market.

“BioLumic has all of the elements necessary for long-term success in the AgTech arena. Given the multi-million acre opportunity for high-value crops and rapidly growing seed treatment market, we think BioLumic could change the Ag industry’s approach to crop productivity and seed treatments by sustainably turning on stronger plant characteristics with the power of light.”

Kukutai and Haney will join current AgBio veteran Dr. John Bedbrook and Christopher Boyle and Mark Houghton Brown on the BioLumic Board. The pair will focus on connecting BioLumic with key industry players to expand its global reach and further its research and development efforts.

Christchurch-based BioLumic company chairman Christopher Boyle says BioLumic’s development has been well supported from its initial commercilisation by NZ Angel investors and this funding round will help biolumic strengthen its international application.

View this video to experience the BioLumic UV crop yield enhancement system.


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