Arlabion is an agri-tech startup developing new generation seed treatment products – fungal inhibitors and plant activators – for sustainable crop management. Ella Kalnina, company co-founder, was exploring the best routes to the market when she was introduced to Dr Belinda Clarke and Agri-Tech East.
Ella says: “Belinda immediately saw the value of our product to seed producers and wheat growers. She introduced me to top experts in wheat research and seed breeding. Their validation of our approach to the wheat pathogen problem gave us confidence and sense of direction – if you have ever developed a startup company you will know how important it is!
“Our company Arlabion is based in Yorkshire, where we produce our new chemical compound in small quantities. We have joined Agri-Tech East because I believe it provides excellent professional network opportunities and access to the best research capabilities.
“I am now considering relocating the company to the East of England to ensure proximity to industry and wheat growers. Joining Agri-Tech East turned out to be one of the best moves in my company development.”
We asked Ella a few questions about her company:
Do you think that the problem with Septoria is increasing and why?
I think the problem with Septoria is increasing for a variety of reasons, one of the main reasons being increased fungicide resistance.
How did you come to focus on this issue – what were you doing before?
We are introducing two new chemical compounds to the market – seed treatment products for winter wheat, peppers and tomatoes. Our compounds act as systemic plant activators and enhance plant immune system response against pathogen attack. Our previous tests have proven the product very effective on Fusarium contaminated soil. Belinda Clarke has introduced me to leading wheat researchers and other industry specialists. A response from the market was – “Septoria is a bigger headache for wheat growers. If your product delivers, it will be a major breakthrough in crop protection”. Therefore, the industry response led us to focusing on this issue.
What is your response to the problem?
We are focusing on the winter wheat now. We are about to finish Active Ingredient tests directly on the Septoria pathogen. As soon as they are finished, we will be testing it on wheat – in glasshouse and on field. The AI is of low toxicity, applied to seeds in extremely low concentration and it will be protecting wheat against both Fusarium and Septoria attacks. We are looking for strategic partnerships with seed breeders or seed enhancement companies who will be willing to join us for further product development.
Can you explain how you came to be involved in Agri-Tech East?
This project originated in Latvia, in Commercialization Reactor (www.commercializationreactor.com) – a place where new technologies meet entrepreneurial talent. I am a business developer and I am working with two extraordinary researchers – Robert, a chemist, who has designed the molecules, and Grigor, a biotechnologist, who tested the compound on plants. The UK for us is a bigger market and strategic headquarters for international growth. I am a graduate of the Ignite programme at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the University of Cambridge and this is how I was introduced to Agri-Tech East.
In addition, the UKTI and their Agri-Tech team supported our relocation. Our company, actually, is based in Yorkshire, where we produce our chemical compound in small quantities.
We have joined Agri-Tech East because I believe it provides excellent professional network opportunities and access to the best research capabilities.
What is the next thing on your horizon?
Our plans are gigantic. As we have proven our compound activates plant response against Fusarium; we are now looking into the problem of global threat to commercial banana growing – so called Panama disease caused by one of the Fusarium species. We are actually looking for partners with international outreach to test out compound on Cavendish bananas.
Are you interested in bringing a solution to millions of banana eaters and the $10 billion banana trade? – Please contact Arlabion.