'Nature-inspired' insecticides receive fund boost

SOLASTA Bio's biopesticides also preserve the ecosystem by protecting beneficial insects such as bees
SOLASTA Bio's biopesticides also preserve the ecosystem by protecting beneficial insects such as bees

A start-up which develops environmentally-friendly crop protection products has secured seed investment of £1.3 million to support ongoing work.

SOLASTA Bio specialises in the next generation of 'nature-inspired' insecticides, the first of their kind to be developed worldwide.

The products target insect pests while preserving beneficial pollinators such as bees in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

Investors in the £1.3 million of seed funding round include the Yield Lab Europe, SIS Ventures, members of Cambridge Agritech and UKI2S.

With this latest funding secured, the agri start-up aims to take the trials of its biopesticides out of the laboratory and into real-world settings.

The company says it wants to bring its first biopesticides to market in 2027, around half the time traditionally taken by synthetic pest control products.

The global insecticides market is currently dominated by synthetic chemicals accounting for 94% of insect control solutions, with a projected 2022 value of $22 billion.

While 75% of food crops are dependent on pollinator insects, other insects cause enormous social, health and economic damage accounting for at least $70 billion in US crop losses alone.

However, the insecticides market is under increasing pressure from widespread insect resistance, lack of species specificity, increasing regulatory controls and consumer preferences for non-chemical residues.

SOLASTA Bio was co-founded by scientist and entrepreneur Professor Shireen Davies, who is considered a world leader in insect biology.

“The global market for insecticides has been under intense scrutiny for many years now, with growing demands on food production requiring greater levels of crop protection, counterbalanced by heightened concerns for the environment," she said.

"Through our proprietary technology platform, we have developed a world-leading solution which represents a profound change for how insect control agents are discovered, and a step change in how we not only protect our crops worldwide, but also our ecosystem."