Hampshire company Terraseed has been developing a chemical-free, organic method of weed control that could offer a lifeline to farmers and growers around the world.
The firm’s ‘seedmat’ technology uses biodegradable paper and starch-based adhesives combined with a unique gel to provide cost-effective protection for horticultural crops such as onions, carrots and leafy salads.
Building on support from Enterprise Europe Network in the South of England, Terraseed is currently working towards a commercial launch of its BioSeedMat product later this year.
As well as conducting final trials in the UK and Denmark, the company is waiting for confirmation from the Soil Association that crops produced from the product can be registered as organic before going to market.
Weed control has become a major worry for growers as more herbicides lose their regulatory approval and disappear from the agrochemicals market. The annual cost to producers could be as high as €1bn.
Terraseed’s founder, David Holloway, said: “As a small private equity-funded company, we have limited resources to fully exploit the massive world-wide market potential of our products.”
Intellectual property audit
But the EEN network was able to provide coaching and other services through the Innovate 2 Succeed programme.
EEN’s involvement began after Terraseed won Horizon 2020 feasibility study funding under the SME Instrument Phase 1 to develop and commercialise seedmat products for organic farming.
Business coaching came free as part of the grant funding and other support included help with completing the Phase 1 grant, winning additional funding for an Intellectual Property Office audit and preparing a Phase 2 application.
EEN business coaching
David said: “We’ve worked closely with our EEN adviser, Jakub Rakoczy. It was through our business coaching sessions with Jakub that an IP audit was suggested. This process generated lots more ideas of how to move our product forwards, in addition to making our design process more robust.
“It unearthed the need to apply for two new patents to ensure we are protected globally.”
Our EEN adviser brought an insight and enthusiasm into the whole process. It has been great to have someone who understands Terraseed and who we can talk to about business strategy.
David Holloway, Terraseed