May 18, 2023
Global Biological Accelerator debuts at Salinas event

A new venture designed to spur development of biological products that kill pests, diseases and weeds that afflict specialty crops is taking a novel approach to further research.

The Global Biological Accelerator, which will see its formal introduction in connection with the Salinas Biological Summit, June 20-21 in Salinas, California, will be based at the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center. The center has provided support to dozens of ag-tech startups since it opened in late 2015, and will do the same for the biological companies chosen to participate in
the Global Biological Accelerator. Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers center, said the Global Biological Accelerator will support companies as they scale products and distribution to address key diseases, plant health
and pest pressures.

Ag-biologicals-Accelerator-greenhouse
Biological products to suppress weeds, pests and diseases are growing in popularity. Photos courtesy AgBiome

Donohue said online tools will enable companies across the globe to participate. An important part of biological research, grower trials will take place in multiple growing regions, giving accelerator companies the ability to research their products during two seasons a year. That will speed research and development, with accelerator partners overseeing the off-season trials. “The value to the prospective companies that will be selected is that we are looking to establish a global grower trial network that provides industry focus in a commercial setting,” Donohue said.

A new venture designed to spur development of biological products that kill pests, diseases and weeds that afflict specialty crops is taking a novel approach to further research.

The Global Biological Accelerator, which will see its formal introduction in connection with the Salinas Biological Summit, June 20-21 in Salinas, California, will be based at the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center.

The center has provided support to dozens of ag-tech startups since it opened in late 2015, and will do the same for the biological companies chosen to participate in the Global Biological Accelerator.

Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers center, said the Global Biological Accelerator will support companies as they scale products and distribution to address key diseases, plant health and pest pressures.

Donohue said online tools will enable companies across the globe to participate. An important part of biological research, grower trials will take place in multiple growing regions, giving accelerator companies the ability to research their products during two seasons a year.

That will speed up research and development, with accelerator partners overseeing the off-season trials.

“The value to the prospective companies that will be selected is that we are looking to establish a global grower trial network that provides industry focus in a commercial setting,” Donohue said.

Naturally curious Jason Kuhlemeier, vice president of marketing for AgBiome LLC, will be representing his company on one of the summit panels. He said the Global Biological Accelerator is a welcome response to the growing awareness and acceptance of biological products.

“The grower community is naturally curious,” he said. “They’re always looking for different things to incorporate into their operation that might give them an edge or help them solve a particular challenge they might be having in their operation.”

AgBiome released its first product in 2019 and now has two fungicides on the market, Howler and Theia, which recently received approval for use in California. Makers of biologicals in recent years are coming to market better prepared to discuss results with growers.

“We’ve had a really good reception and primarily I think it’s because AgBiome, and a lot of companies in this space, really have started taking a much more scientific approach to discovery, research and development of the products, being able to prove with data that they work, how they work and where they work,” Kuhlemeier said.

Access to industry knowledge through the accelerator could be an immense help to a startup, he said, whether it’s regulatory or production expertise.

“Even as we (AgBiome) begin to think about new markets or new opportunities, plugging into some type of expertise would be extremely helpful,” Kuhlemeier said. “We’re still very much focused on the North American market and the U.S. specifically, but we think we have applicability and interest to be elsewhere, and perhaps something like the accelerator can help a company navigate those waters.”

— Chris Koger, managing editor

Photos courtesy AgBiome




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