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Bionema secures grant to complete alternative to chemical pesticides

A UK-based biotechnology company has received a grant from Innovate UK to support its continual development of its bioinsecticide microencapsulation formulation, which delivers an effective alternative to chemical pesticides.

This additional £98K Continuity Grant complements a initial £1m in funding support from Innovate UK, the national funding agency that investing in science and research in the UK, and from the Welsh Government’s SMARTCymru.

Dr Minshad Ansari, a world-leading biopesticide expert who leads Bionema’s research team, says: “The funding is helping the company to continue the development of its microencapsulation formulation and delivery systems, which is crucial to the development of effective biopesticide products.

“Effective control of pests, such as western flower thrips, aphids, whitefly and spider mites, require a robust formulation for targeted delivery. Currently, these pests are controlled by conventional chemical insecticides but some of them have now developed product resistance, while other products have been removed from the market, due to their harmful impact on the environment and human health. Biopesticide formulation and its targeted delivery is a more stable and sustainable approach for controlling these pests that are causing billions of dollars of crop damage on a world-wide scale.”

 

What are biopesticides?
Biopesticides are the natural alternative to toxic chemicals –
plants, nematodes, bacteria, fungi, and minerals
for the control of insect pests.
They are less toxic than chemical pesticides,
decompose rapidly and can be targeted at specific pests
to avoid harming beneficial insects.

 

The outcome of this Continuity Grant-funded project will be a unique manufacturing process of proven microencapsulation formulation technology for next-generation bioinsecticide control. The new microencapsulated products will be registered and distributed across Europe, the United States and Canada. Currently, trials are in place with several multi-national chemical companies and distributors to commercialise the technology.

“We’ve been working for almost five years on biopesticide formulation development,” Dr Ansari says. “We’ve encapsulated a number of fungal spores in a capsule form that can be delivered to plant surfaces for targeting soft body insects. We just need to adapt that to work for this project.

“The encapsulated formulations also control release mechanisms, which can last longer and retain moisture on the leaf surface for targeting small insects such as spider mites. The overall goal is to demonstrate the robustness and stability of this formulation to see positive results in different environments.”

The project team includes formulation experts from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham and at Bionema. In addition to Bionema’s research, development and commercial teams, Silsoe Spray Application Unit is also testing the product’s large-scale applicability and Applied Insect Science, regulatory service is involved for the registration of this product.

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