Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Biopesticide: Phoma macrostoma
Control of broadleaved weeds in turf, agriculture, and forestry

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is inviting Letters of Interest from companies working in the professional lawn and garden care, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry industries, to commercialize a patented biocontrol process for controlling dandelions and other broadleaved weeds. This technology has received conditional registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in Canada and from the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, and is in the final stages of receiving full registration in both countries. Descriptions of the technology are provided in Appendix A - Business Opportunity Document and the Fact Sheet.

This invitation for Letters of Interest will appeal to companies that specialize in R&D, distribution, and vertical integrated activities involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sales of pest control products.

As a first step in a process that will culminate in the award of a license for the technology, interested parties with a background in pest control, a strong performance record, and capacity in R&D are invited to submit a Letter of Interest.

  1. Phase One - Letters of Interest

    The Letter of Interest should include the information listed in Appendix B – Letter of Interest.

    Letters of Interest will be reviewed and up to five (5) candidate companies will be selected based upon their ability to demonstrate:

    • a commitment in resources;
    • the capacity to undertake the requisite costs for completing full registration and registrations for new uses with relevant governing bodies, i.e., Health Canada, Environmental Protection Agency;
    • access to the requisite R&D expertise for further product enhancements;
    • experience in commercializing products in the areas of pest control; and
    • the benefit to Canada.

    Letters of Interest must be received no later than September 15, 2014 and may be submitted by mail/courier or electronically in .pdf format to:

    Darren Ramlal, Risk Manager
    Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    303 Main Street, Floor 5, Room 500
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3G7 Canada
    Phone: 204-470-6421
    Email : darren.ramlal@agr.gc.ca

  2. Phase 2 - Request for Proposals for Commercialization

    The Request for Proposals for Commercialization process will be by invitation only. The companies selected from Phase 1 will be asked to submit a full proposal regarding their commercialization plan for the technology using the elements contained in Appendix C – Outline for Commercialization Plan. Confidentiality Agreements will be prepared with the selected companies after which Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will provide additional confidential technical information regarding the technology.

    The deadline for submission of the Proposals will be November 5, 2014.

  3. Phase 3 – Evaluation of Proposals for Commercialization

    The submitted Proposals will be formally evaluated for certain criteria including the following aspects of the Commercialization Plan:

    1. Product or Process Development (15%)
      • practical phases of development (including scale up, prototype, manufacturing processes, distribution networks, retail contracts
      • schedule of development and time to market
    2. Human Resources (15%)
    3. Financial Commitment (15%)
      • funds that will be invested into the various stages of product development
      • financial risk undertaken by Proponent
    4. Infrastructure (10%)
      • capacity to manufacture, distribute and sell the product
    5. Barriers (10%)
      • ability to identify and overcome barriers to entry
    6. Benefit to Canada (25%)
      • overall benefit to Canada (Socio-Economic variables)
    7. Financial Offer (10%)
      • proposed royalty (upfront, minimum and running royalties)

Formal evaluations will tentatively take between November 5, 2014 and November 12, 2014.

The successful proponent will be notified by November 13, 2014 and all other proponents will be notified by November 14, 2014.

The successful proponent will enter into a License Agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada by January 16, 2015.

Appendix A - Business Opportunity Document

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has developed a patented bioherbicide to control dandelion and other broadleaved weeds. The bioherbicide received conditional registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency for use as a pre-emergent and a post-emergent on a broad spectrum of broadleaved weeds in established turfgrass, in new seeding of grasses, in field-grown nursery and ornamental plants and trees, and in container-grown ornamentals. AAFC has developed trade-secret protected fermentation and formulation technologies for application and delivery as a commercial product. AAFC is also developing a portfolio of data for future registration of the bioherbicide for use in agriculture.

The Challenge

Description of this image follows.
Thistle control in corn

Broadleaved weeds compete for light, nutrients, moisture, and physical space disrupting the uniformity, aesthetics, vigor and yield of turfgrasses, and agricultural and horticultural plants. Weeds are also a major source of pollen, which contribute to allergies and other irritations.

A healthy and vigorous plant stand provides numerous benefits ranging from cleaning our air by neutralizing pollutants and trapping dirt and dust, moderating temperature and noise levels, diminishing soil erosion, and creating a pleasing surrounding that contributes to our quality of life.

Legislation that limits herbicide-use in urban environments and development of herbicide–resistant weed populations in agriculture underscores the importance of developing alternative methods of weed control. Biological control provides a method that complements other tools used in integrated weed management systems.

The Solution

The indigenous fungus (Phoma macrostoma) was isolated from Canada thistle plants, but exhibits selective broadleaved weed control affecting other weeds such as dandelion, clover, wild mustard, ragweed, and others. There are no effects on grassy weeds (green foxtail and wild oats) or crops, such as wheat, barley, oat, millet, kamut, and grasses.

Phoma macrostoma can be used for broadleaved weed control in...

Urban Areas/Turfgrass

Agriculture/Cereals

Agro-Forestry/Evergreens

When applied before weed emergence, the fungus prevents weed establishment in turf for 1-3 months. Post-emergent applications result in susceptible plants turning white and subsequently dying. The fungus produces phytotoxins during its growth phase which are taken up by the susceptible plants. Weed control is obtained when a granular formulation of the fungus is applied to moderately moist soil when the air temperature is between 10–30°C. Trials have demonstrated up to 80–100% control of dandelion and wild mustard and 50-80% control of Canada thistle.

Description of this image follows.
Phoma macrostoma formulated for turf control of broadleaved weeds
Description of this image follows.
Phoma macrostoma growing in vented bag system on a grain substrate
Description of this image follows.
Phoma macrostoma in rangeland grass

Phoma macrostoma has limited mobility in the soil because growth is primarily by mycelial fragments, thus staying mostly where placed. It is not very competitive with other soil mycoflora and its presence declines with time. One year after application, it is rarely detected in the soil and there are few carryover effects to non-target plants. Above 30°C, its growth is curtailed. Overall the fungus has minimal impact on the environment.

Description of this image follows.
Untreated and Treated
A pre-emergent application of Phoma macrostoma to reduce dandelions in newly seeded turfgrass

The Opportunity

AAFC has patents issued on this technology in 16 countries and 1 pending. AAFC has developed a solid state fermentation and formulation process at the pilot scale level. Based on this manufacturing process, conditional registrations were granted in Canada and the USA for use in nonfood situations. AAFC has acquired data to support a new feed and food registration. Commercial opportunities for use are in:

  • Pre- and post-emergent broadleaved weed control
  • Areas where new turfgrass is being established
  • Established turf to prevent new weed infestations
  • Established turf to remove weed infestations
  • Agro-forestry for tree seedling nurseries
  • Field and container-grown ornamental/ nursery plants
  • Agricultural forage grasses, cereals and grains, and established alfalfa

AAFC will provide a licensee with all relevant data and access to the inventors in order to support the transfer of know how to implement these inventions in the licensee’s business.

Interested parties are asked to submit an Expression of Interest to AAFC by September 15, 2014.

Acknowledgement of Biopesticide Team Members

Karen Bailey, Russell Hynes and Wes Taylor, AAFC Saskatoon SK and Frances Leggett and Claudia Sheedy, AAFC Lethbridge AB

For Additional Information Contact:

Dr. Russell Hynes
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Saskatoon Research Centre
107 Science Place
Saskatoon SK, Canada S7N 0X2

Telephone: (306) 385-9452
E-mail: russell.hynes@agr.gc.ca

Appendix B - Letter of Interest

Deadline: The Letter of Interest must be submitted to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on or before September 15, 2014.

Letters of Interest must include the following information:

  1. Company Legal Name and Articles of Incorporation. Attach copy of Articles of Incorporation and Business Registration
  2. Company address, telephone/fax numbers, e-mail address
  3. Form of business organization (proprietorship, partnership, or corporation)
  4. Name of founders/partners/shareholders
  5. The names and positions of the Management Team and experience in business
  6. Length of time in business
  7. Total value or net worth of business
  8. Description of the company's line of business and the industry in which it operates
  9. Description of the company's current product line and how the technology fits into the product mix
  10. Experience with registration processes for pest control products
  11. Access to personnel with R&D capacity in pest control products
  12. Experience in marketing and selling pest control products
  13. Existing facilities, distribution channels (Example Location and Size and Type of Facilities)
  14. Proposed benefit to Canada

Appendix C - Outline for Commercialization Plan

  1. Product or Process Development
    • What do you foresee as the phases of development?
    • Present an overall schedule indicating what needs to be done to bring the technology to the marketplace and the timing required. This may be presented in a Gantt chart.
  2. Human Resources
    • In reference to the proposed development phases in question 1, what is the commitment in terms of personnel in Full Time Equivalents (FTE's) to the project development?
    • Who are the key management personnel within your organization: Project Leader, Product Design, Operations, Finance, Marketing, CEO (Include Organization Chart)?
    • What additional expertise is required? How will it be acquired?
  3. Financial Investment
    • In reference to the proposed development phases in question 1, what level of investment do you plan to commit to develop the product/process?
    • How will this investment be financed (debt, equity, funding organization, current resources, other)?
    • For each activity in the phases of development, indicate the estimated costs.
  4. Infrastructure
    • Describe the size, capacity, location, and type of facility you currently operate.
    • Describe the existing manufacturing equipment in your facilities.

    In reference to the proposed development phases in question 1:

    • What equipment do you need to purchase? What are the costs involved?
    • Will the existing facilities be utilized or will new facilities have to be constructed or otherwise acquired?
  5. Barriers
    • Discuss the major problems and risks that you will have to deal with in production, scale up, regulatory approvals, market acceptance, etc.
    • How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
  6. Benefit to Canada
    • Where will the inputs be sourced?
    • Where will the manufacturing take place?
    • When will the outputs be made available to Canadian consumers?
    • How will the outputs be distributed to Canadian consumers?
    • What is the socio economic impact (jobs created, health benefits, rural development, and reinvestment in Canada) to Canadians?
  7. Financial Offer
    • Please provide the details of the financial offer to acquire the licensed rights to this technology. This can include an upfront fee, annual minimum royalties, running royalties based on percentage of sales, reimbursement of intellectual protection costs etc.
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