Is time up for blackgrass? We asked MoA Technologies when the company appeared in the REAP 2019 Start-up Showcase. The company is developing a rapid screening technology for herbicide development that uses insights from evolutionary biology to discover potential leads with new modes of action. We caught up with Co-founder Professor Liam Dolan to see how the company has progressed.
MoA Technology, a spinout from Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, is developing a crop protection discovery platform that offers a radically different approach. Its rapid screening process uses both whole plants and active ingredients, promising to fast-track the introduction of effective herbicides with low environmental impacts.
Prof Dolan says: “We have developed a really neat technology that allows us to rapidly identify potential new herbicide leads that are a combination of naturally occurring and synthetic products working in different ways.
“We can screen their efficacy against entire plants using an imaging process, then from this we can get a lot of information about how the molecules are killing the plants and use this to identify new targets.”
Prof Dolan says the company is still focused on developing new environmentally safe herbicides with novel modes of action and progress has been excellent with numerous patent filings.
“We are growing rapidly and raised a further £5M, the team is now 25 strong – from 15 at the end of 2019 – and we have recently moved from the Oxford BioEscalator into bespoke labs on the Oxford Science Park.
“We have also been delighted to welcome Virginia Corless as the CEO. Virginia was an MIT Physics undergraduate and has a PhD from Cambridge University. She also has extensive experience in sustainability and agriculture, having worked with a number of NGOs and Novihum Technologies GmbH.”
MoA Technologies’ aim is to develop a more diverse toolkit with a variety of different chemistries and minimal impact on soil health that can be used alongside non-chemical measures to provide sustainable crop protection.
This will be particularly welcomed by low-till cultivation systems that currently rely on glyphosate to control pernicious weeds such as blackgrass. Glyphosate is being withdrawn from use – so MoA’s technology is particularly timely.
REAP 2021: Changing Time(s) for Agriculture – 10th November 2021
Imagine a world where agriculture is not constrained by time. The ability to manage and manipulate time is increasing and REAP 2021 will explore the advances in technology and breakthroughs in science that is making this possible.
REAP brings together people from across the agri-tech ecosystem who believe that innovation is the engine for change. The conference bridges the gap between producer needs and technology solutions and showcases exciting agri-tech start-ups.