Growing vegetables… And a business

Jean-François Codère
La Presse

With food now becoming scarce in some areas of the world, as well as rising prices and declining acceptance of chemical fertilizers, the market conditions are perfect for Inocucor.

Two women, Ananda Lynn Fitzsimmons and Dr. Margaret Bywater-Ekegärd, founded the company in 2007. The first is an environmentalist and self-described eccentric who taught herself microbiology. The second is a researcher and experienced manager who first came to Montreal through the pharmaceutical industry.

Over four or five years, they have jointly developed a micro-organism fermentation process “similar to that used for wine or beer” that generates an organic product useful in boosting agricultural yields, described by the new president since April 2014, Donald R. Marvin, an American from Colorado.

The company’s first product, Garden Solution, has now been sold to farmers in Quebec, Ontario and especially 24 American states for about two years. Curly kale, tomatoes, broccoli and eggplant are some of the crops benefiting from its “powers,” Mr. Marvin explains.

“The product is good for almost all crops, but has to be adjusted a little depending on the particular plant.”

In addition to boosting production, Inocucor’s product speeds up growth, which can prove very lucrative for farmers.

“If farm crops can reach market two or three weeks early, this translates into big dollars, because they can fetch higher prices.”

— Donald R. Marvin, Inocucor CEO

AMBITIOUS PLANS

On a hundred or so farms, Inocucor is now also starting its third season of tests for marketing a second generation of its product, in cooperation with another Quebec company, Axter Agroscience.

This second version only needs to be applied once for the entire season and can be mixed with other products for a single application, making the farmer’s life a lot easier, “because they prefer to limit operations in their fields,” Mr. Marvin says.

If all goes well, marketing of this second product should start in 2016 and foster the company’s growth, with hopes to add some 15 new employees over the next six months to the current staff of about 20.

Inocucor’s president claims that the company could be listed on the stock exchange in about five years, thereby enriching current employees, all of whom are stockholders. By then it could have a staff of 200.

“Substituting organic solutions for chemical products is the current hot trend in agriculture. The six large multinationals in the sector are investing heavily in this.”

— Donald R. Marvin

A few weeks ago, Inocucor even recruited the president and CEO of one major player, Bayer CropScience, as independent chair of its board of directors. And just yesterday, a former Monsanto executive also joined Inocucor’s board.

“If they’re coming to us, they must have seen something very special here,” the CEO says.

Given these circumstances, could Inocucor become a takeover target? “It’s quite possible one day, but we hope to build a sizable business here. The scientific talent available in Quebec is outstanding, and we have a very good relationship with McGill University.”

INOCUCOR

WHO

Founders Ananda Lynn Fitzsimmons and Margaret Bywater-Ekegärd, CEO Donald R. Marvin and about 20 employees.

THE IDEA

An organic product developed by fermentation to boost farm yields.

THE AMBITION

Create major products that will help develop sustainable agriculture and a solid business for employees and investors.

THEY BELIEVE IN WHAT THEY DO AND HAVE INVESTED THEIR OWN MONEY

The founders, angel investors (mainly family and friends), Cycle Capital Management and Desjardins Innovatech.

lapress-donald-r-marvin

Translated from the original French version.

ABOUT INOCUCOR TECHNOLOGIES INC.

Inocucor Technologies Inc., based in Montreal, is an ag biotech company that develops sustainable biological products for agriculture targeting the phyto-microbiome—the seeds, plants, root systems and the soil surrounding them. Inocucor’s first-generation product, Garden Solution®, soon to be re-branded as Synergro, employs live microbes to actively improve the health of the entire phyto-microbiome. Its second product, Synergro Free and future generations of Inocucor products are powerful biological formulations for bio-stimulation, bio-fertility and bio-control targeting mainstream production agriculture.

For more information, visit www.inocucor.com.

ino_about