840 Campus Drive, Suite 3520
Raleigh, NC 27606
|Peter A. Isaac, President & CEO
Thomas Currier, Chief Scientific Officer
Michael Morgan, Vice President, R&D
Product Line or Service
AgraSoL develops, produces and markets bacteria and fungi to prevent plant diseases and control pests in agricultural and related industrial markets. These products are nontoxic, safe for the environment and human health, and economically advantageous. They can replace or reduce the use of chemical pesticides, and can provide the only solution in cases where chemical treatments are not available or environmentally unacceptable. The companyís objective is to become the leading biological control company in its chosen market segments, by commercializing present technologies and by developing, acquiring and licensing additional uniquely advantageous products. The core expertise of the management team is in assessment, acquisition and commercialization of technologies and the products derived from them.
AgraSoL is currently marketing a fungal product which provides unique benefits in large forestry and paper industry markets. The company holds the worldís leading position in these markets as a partner with customers and academic institutions, including major global forest products companies, NC State University and the Universities of Minnesota and Waikato, New Zealand. Trials for new customers and applications are ongoing. Additional products are in the pipeline for introduction in 2001-2002.
A second product line for biological pest control in agricultural markets is about to be submitted for EPA registration. These products are expected to be approved in 12-18 months and to be introduced in mid-2001. The absence of toxicity and the environmental friendliness of biological products leads to a much shorter review and approval process than for chemical pesticides.
Both of AgraSoLís technologies are protected by powerful worldwide patent positions, to which the company has ownership or exclusive rights. The technologies were acquired from Novartis and Clariant Corporations, and the inventors serve as advisors to the company. The products were developed from naturally-occurring organisms by conventional microbiology techniques: they are not genetically modified. AgraSoL also possesses rights to genetically modified organisms and genes, which could be developed later if appropriate commercialization opportunities arise. Current products are toll-manufactured using AgraSoL proprietary technology. The company also has exclusive world-wide rights to produce and market products developed by collaborators in major target markets. AgraSoL technical staff are skilled in the development, formulation, production and stabilization of biological products Ė these activities are conducted in our Raleigh, NC laboratories.
The toxicity of chemical fungicides is leading to ever more stringent regulations and public resistance. Biological technologies offer an attractive alternative, but have frequently lacked adequate cost/performance and ease of use. AgraSoL has acquired two technologies which offer practical, economic biocontrol, and has identified a number of other technologies which meet its criteria for successful commercialization. Total market potentials for present and prospective licensed products exceed $1 billion.
AgraSoLís first commercial product is used to remove troublesome resin components from wood chips and to maintain chip brightness prior to pulping. The product offers significant advantages over chemical or alternative biological treatments. It is used commercially in mechanical pulping and has been shown to offer benefits in sulfite and kraft pulping. Collectively these processes use about 670 million cubic meters of wood per year, corresponding to a market potential for AgraSoLís present and future products of $200-400MM. A second application for these products is to protect lumber against sapstain, a fungal infection which darkens lumber and substantially reduces its value. Treatments must be applied in the forest, a requirement which no chemical fungicides can meet. Prototypes are performing favorably in field trials targeted for completion late in 2000. Wood usage of 440 million cubic meters represents market potential of about $400-600MM for AgraSoL products.
AgraSoLís present agricultural products offer performance advantages over chemical fungicides and other biological products against root-rot fungi, competing in market segments estimated at $400MM worldwide. Numerous organisms showing pesticidal activity have been developed by laboratories around the world; AgraSoL management possesses the technical and market appraisal expertise to select and licence those offering the most attractive commercial potential.
Marketing/Sales and Distribution
The forestry and pulp and paper industries are highly concentrated worldwide, and the company is collaborating with a number of major customer companies across the world. Marketing and sales to these companies is achieved directly through our technical and marketing staff. Many agricultural markets are characterized by large numbers of customers and established distributor networks. AgraSoL has selected market segment targets for both present and future technologies which are relatively concentrated (for instance, greenhouse crops and ornamentals) and can be reached through a small direct technical marketing force. AgraSoL sells directly to its current customers in North America, and plans to expand its direct marketing and technical staff to service new customers and applications. Overseas and fragmented markets will be reached through partners. Currently, a major global corporation is collaborating with the Company in one country while a more extensive marketing relationship is being negotiated.
There are no chemical products which provide equivalent benefits to the paper and forestry industries. All chemical fungicides are too toxic for application in the forest, and treatment in the woodyard often comes too late to prevent sapstain infection. Forestry is a niche market for fungicide producers, and the major agricultural chemical companies do not serve these applications. There is one biological technology offered for pulping applications by a start-up company: the product suffers from several disadvantages and has not yet secured a commercial trial.
AgraSoLís agricultural technology will compete with chemical fungicides from major companies. It offers superior performance as well as human health and environmental benefits. Future technologies to be acquired or licensed are being selected on the basis of similar performance criteria.