Company Spotlight: Eden Research
Published on 12 September 2023
We talked to Sean Smith, the CEO of sustainable agritech firm Eden Research, to find out how the team is leveraging nature’s own chemistry to help farmers produce better crop yields.
Each year, nearly 40% of global crop production is lost to plant diseases, at a time of record population growth. In response, Eden Research was formed to develop sustainable crop protection technologies to improve agricultural productivity using plant-derived products.
By increasing the crop yield with minimal impact on the environment, its solutions provide an alternative to conventional pesticides, which can lead to poor soil health and loss of biodiversity.
Eden is currently the only UK-listed company focused on the development of biopesticides and plastic-free microencapsulation technologies.
Eden’s team uses terpene-based active ingredients – these are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants – to formulate crop protection products that effectively leverage nature’s own resources to provide protection against highly destructive pests and diseases.
The company has three flagship products: Mevalone®, a fungicide that prevents and treats fungal diseases, Cedroz™, a nematicide that targets parasitic worms, and the recently unveiled Ecovelex® seed treatment which is applied to maize seeds to repel birds and help prevent crop destruction.
These products use Eden’s patented microencapsulation Sustaine® technology. Derived from yeast – unlike other polymer-based methods – Sustaine is a more sustainable alternative than polluting microplastics and has the potential to be applied more widely across animal health and consumer industries.
A novel solution for the fruit harvest
In Europe, Eden uses its Mevalone product on a variety of fruit and vegetables against diseases such as Botrytis cinerea and downy mildew. One such example is Mevalone’s application on apples in the immediate lead-up to fruit harvest to protect the harvested apples whilst in storage. Other pesticides are not afforded the same flexibility due to stipulated maximum residue levels and pre-harvest intervals that are intended to help safeguard human health. This makes the product a natural choice for farmers looking to embrace sustainable practices that minimise food waste at the source.
Driven by its commitment to improving food security, Eden also applies the same active ingredients and microencapsulation technology in the development of new products, such as its forthcoming insecticide that will target spider mites, aphids, whiteflies and thrips on a wide range of crops. Furthermore, lab development also applies to opening new avenues for its existing products to grow the labels beyond their current uses. For example, Eden is looking to grow the Cedroz label to target potato cyst nematodes and wireworms.
Fruitful partnerships grown at the Park
Announced in June 2023, Ecovelex was launched as the company’s ground-breaking bird repellent seed treatment product, developed in partnership with Corteva Agriscience, a leading agriculture input company also based at Milton Park.
Subject to positive assessment by EU and UK regulators, Ecovelex will likely hit the EU and UK markets in time for the 2025 growing season. Although, the product could be brought to market sooner through farmer-supported emergency approvals. This could mean Ecovelex becomes the only seed treatment product for repelling birds due to the upcoming ban of a bird-repellent ingredient that is currently used within many conventional seed treatments.
Eden also works with Corteva as its distributor for Mevalone in France. Here, the two companies are targeting the Botrytis cinerea fungus in French grapes, the world’s second-largest wine producer.
Why Milton Park?
In the search for the right property that fitted its cutting-edge research and development requirements, Eden chose Milton Park, where it has since established its headquarters and lab facilities.
At the Park, Eden is connected to the area’s growing eco-system of like-minded companies dedicated to problem-solving and collaborative innovation, with its Corteva partnership a prime example.
Benefitting from prime proximity to other world-class research facility centres and higher education institutions, it has access to an exceptional pool of talent, with many of its lab staff graduating from nearby universities, with others having worked at other life science and industrial companies nearby.
Sean Smith, CEO of Eden Research, explains more: “Choosing Milton Park to house Eden Research’s facilities underscores our commitment to maintaining a presence in the UK’s growing science and technology sectors. We are proud to operate alongside other innovative companies, working with some of the best talent in the world, and look forward to developing these relationships further.”
To find out more about Eden Research’s work, please visit www.edenresearch.com