Lucent BioSciences raises $2.9M to bring plant-based smart fertilizer to market
New sustainable organic fertilizer Soileos increases yields without runoff pollution, sequesters carbon, and grows more nutrient-dense food.
Vancouver, BC, March 3, 2020 – Vancouver-based Agtech start-up Lucent BioSciences today announced it has raised $2.9M from Protein Industries Canada Supercluster, AGT Foods & Ingredients from Regina, and a group of investors to bring their sustainable micronutrient smart fertilizer for agriculture, Soileos, to market.
The investment by Protein Industries Canada was announced by Minister Wilkinson of Environment and Climate Change at the Canadian Crops Convention in Vancouver, Canada.
Funding will support the rollout of Soileos, Lucent BioScience’s patent-pending cellulose-based micronutrient fertilizer for agriculture. Lucent will use the hulls of pea and lentil seeds which are a co-product from value-added processing completed by AGT Foods and Ingredients. Using their propriety process, Lucent will convert the hulls into Soileos: a novel carbon-neutral micronutrient fertilizer that uses organic fibre as a carrier to provide micronutrients to plants. Soileos increases yields, promises to end runoff pollution, and sequesters carbon to mitigate climate change while increasing nutrient-density of crops.
“The Protein Industries Canada project is a great example of how superclusters are bringing about new connections and opening avenues for collaboration between small and medium-sized enterprises, larger companies, and academia. This project takes an SME-developed technology to the next level by putting it to the test in fields across western Canada. By helping Canadian processors find new uses for by-products that were once considered waste, we’re diversifying the agricultural sector and creating more jobs for Canadians,” Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry The Honourable Navdeep Bains said.
“Canada is home to innovative entrepreneurs who are creating clean solutions to protect the environment and grow the economy. This supercluster project has the potential to not only make farming more eco-friendly but also improve the quality of food that farmers grow. My congratulations to Lucent BioSciences, AGT Foods, and Simon Fraser University. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this pilot,” Minister of Environment and Climate Change The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson said.
“From the very beginning we have said that being part of the Supercluster would require companies to do business differently,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “This project is the perfect example of what can happen when two companies bring their collective strengths to collaborate and create new opportunity. We are proud that we had a small part to play in these two companies meeting each other and coming together for this project.”
Micronutrient deficiency in crops, such as Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, and Boron can result in suboptimal growth, yield and nutritional quality. These deficiencies also impact the health of billions of people worldwide and are especially problematic in alkaline soils. Current micronutrient fertilizers are not effective in alkaline soils, are expensive and hard to use. This project will enable Lucent BioSciences to produce pilot scale quantities of Soileos micronutrient fertilizer as a granular fertilizer and as seed coating using lentil and pea fibre supplied by AGT Foods. The product will be tested at more than 20 farms across Canada this spring.
“Novel uses for fibre, like the ones in this project, have huge international application for large volumes of pulses fibres and flours. We are excited to partner with Lucent, to bring our strengths together in commercializing these products in territories where AGT has farmer reach and distribution,” Murad Al-Katib, President and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients said.
“Soileos represents a major innovation for the agricultural fertilizer industry,” said Michael Riedijk, CEO of Lucent BioSciences. “The PIC investment allows us to accelerate R&D and engineering, while the collaboration with AGT opens up large scale end-user testing and market access with a key industry player. With global challenges of soil degradation, pollution from agricultural run-off and decline of nutrient density as a result of overuse of synthetic fertilizer, Soileos paves a new, sustainable and regenerative path for agriculture.”
Lucent BioSciences believes that Soileos has the potential to replace current EDTA chelated, oxides and oxy-sulfate micronutrient fertilizers, which represents a world market forecast to grow to $12.5B by 2025.
About Lucent BioSciences
Lucent Biosciences, Inc. is on a mission to address climate impact on global food security and nutrition by developing solutions that regenerate the land and the oceans while capturing carbon to reverse climate change. Soileos, their first sustainable smart fertilizer for agriculture, was developed as a response to the global environmental crisis of soil degradation.