Agri-tech start-up CropBiome, a joint University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) spin-out, has secured €1.3m in funding. The investment follows an earlier €1.5m secured in 2021.
CropBiome develops seed dressings which enable tillage farmers to reduce fertiliser use and improve crop performance in dry conditions while subsequently reducing farmers’ costs. This also benefits the environment.
Reduced chemical inputs, enhanced crop resilience and improved soil health all provide targeted economic benefits to farmers, the agri-tech company says.
Headed by its CEO, entrepreneur Sean Daly, CropBiome has secured its latest round of funding from a Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) Singapore and HBAN Bloom Equity syndicate. Together they have invested €405,000 in the company, with other investments coming from DeepIE Ventures Management Company Ltd and Enterprise Ireland.
HBAN is the all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of private business investment and is a joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland.
With the latest investment, CropBiome says it plans to bring its seed dressing products to market by mid-2025, with revenues expected to reach €5m by the end of that year.
CropBiome sources, selects, ferments, characterises and tests microbes (organisms) derived from wild plant species that are closely related to mass-produced wheat and other cereal crops.
The start-up says it uses these microbes, which are natural and unharmful to plant and animal life, to create seed dressings, which coat the raw seeds of the mass-produced crops, and produce healthier crops as a result.
The company uses a combination of field and greenhouse crop trials to develop and refine the dressings it provides. Through this, CropBiome has developed its biobank of more than 600 microbes.
It continues testing to determine these microbes' impact on crop stress resistance, nutrient use efficiency and overall crop yields.
CropBiome says the additional investment announced will help it partner and carry out trials with major seed distributors in Europe’s largest grain markets, including those in the UK, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Germany, France and Spain.
‘More sustainable food model’
“Pressure is mounting on food producers across the world to move to a more sustainable food model,” said CEO Sean Daly.
He highlighted that 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,” he said.
Daly noted that CropBiome’s product development and market entry strategy "is aligned to help meet these targets.”
“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, Australia and other cereal-producing regions and countries.”