A unique Palmerston North-based company has captured the essential UV component of sunlight to benefit the world.
At the official opening of Biolumic’s cutting-edge research and development facility, its CEO, Warren Bebb, said, through technology developed over the last six years, “we’re using the most powerful part of sunlight (UV) to control the way plants are growing.”
Until now sunlight has been uncontrollable, but “BioLumic technology has changed this paradigm,” he says.
To give it its full name, the BioLumic Photobiology Research and Development (R&D) Centre, is the only one of its kind in the world that uses ultraviolet light (UV) to benefit plant development at a crop’s beginning, inducing greater development through the rest of the crop’s life.
BioLumic was founded by Massey University Associate Professor, Jason Wargent, with support from BCC and the local and NZ Angel investment communities. It recently closed an investment round worth nearly $7 million led by Agtech venture capitalists in the US and Europe.
BioLumic is now recognised globally as leading the UV treatment of plants with a key focus on increasing yield and enabling seedlings to more effectively defend themselves against disease or pest attacks.
It extensively focuses on lettuce but, with the completion of its R&D centre, will soon start development of tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and other high value fresh crops.
Dr Wargent points out the world is searching for sustainable solutions to produce greater quantities of food for an ever increasing population. “BioLumic has developed technology that is an important part of our sustainable future.”
The technology will significantly help growers throughout the world improve the economics of their operations. “In a few years’ time, we anticipate operating with the most important grower companies in all of the key growing regions of the world, enhancing a much wider variety of crops,” Warren Bebb says.
The opening was closely observed by major agritech investors and some of the biggest agricultural companies in all of the key growing regions of the world.
Richard O’Gorman, Director of Rabobank’s Food and Agri Innovation Fund in Amsterdam, says the impact of BioLumic’s UV technology will see an increased yield and output using fewer natural resources.
“Rabobank is proud to be part of the solution by providing investment equity funding and its own resources. BioLumic offers an important piece of the jigsaw when it comes to feeding the world,” he says.
Arama Kukutai, Co-founder and Partner of Finistere, an AgTech global network company based in southern California, says, through his investment in BioLumic “we’re looking to expand the technology into the United States, Mexico and the EU.”
“Farmers are under pressure to use more with less and BioLumic technology is so important because food production needs all the help it can get.”
“That’s why we’ve invested millions of dollars in the company.”
Arama Kukutai says because BioLumic is completely novel in its use of UV light to improve plant vigour and growth, he sees it broadening out in the years to come to include many other fruits and vegetables.
In opening the facility, Professor Ray Geor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Sciences at Massey University, spoke of the symbiotic relationship between Massey University and BioLumic and called the R&D centre an excellent example of research which has taken technology to the market place.