ApheaBio

Next-generation agro-biologicals for a sustainable future

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About Aphea.Bio

Overview of the company

Applied Nature for Better Agriculture

Aphea.Bio

To meet the increasing demand for agricultural production, traditional farming methods will have to be complemented with novel technologies that not only further improve crop yields but also increase sustainability. By exploiting the naturally occurring microbial flora of plants, Aphea.Bio develops solutions that increase crop yield with minimal impact on the environment.

Inspired by Microbiology

Applied Nature

Over millions of years, plants have evolved close relationships with the microorganisms in their surroundings. These relationships can be highly beneficial to plants and improve health and growth. Targeted application of microorganisms that engage in these beneficial relationships can boost the fitness of crops in a natural way.

Sustainable farming for healthy foods

Better Agriculture

Microorganisms can support plants in different ways, which is reflected in Aphea.Bio’s product development strategy. We focus on microbial strains that improve plant nutrient uptake (biostimulants) and strains that protect against disease (biocontrol). Our mission is to provide farmers with innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use.

Biology meets Technology

Solid Foundations

Unravelling complex interactions and identifying beneficial microbial strains requires solid scientific insights. To this end Aphea.Bio has developed an innovative R&D platform bundling different technologies in bio-informatics and microbiome mapping, state-of-the-art microorganism culturing, high-throughput crop phenotyping and data analysis.

Research & Development

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Strain Identification

Strain Isolation

Strain Validation

Product Development

1. Strain Identification

The main goal of Aphea.Bio is to identify naturally occuring microorganisms that display desired qualities for stimulating plant growth and health. To find exactly those beneficial organisms amongst a multitude of candidates, Aphea.Bio relies on expertise in agriculture, soil science and genomics to pinpoint specific soils and plant environments that are most likely to contain strains of interest. Combining these extensive sampling efforts with state-of-the-art genomics techniques provides us with in depth knowledge of plant-microbiome interactions and guides the selection of microbial candidates.

2. Strain Isolation

Environmental samples are further processed to isolate the constituent microorganisms and grow them into pure colonies. Proprietary culturing methods enable Aphea.Bio to tap into the pool of difficult to culture organisms, some of which may be cultured for the very first time. Pure colonies are then transferred to the Aphea.Bio proprietary strain collection where they are cryo preserved and redundantly stored. This combination of specific isolation techniques and sampling strategeis, allows Aphea.Bio to build a collection that emphasizes specific classes of microorgansisms such as endophytic and rhizospheric bacteria of our target crops.

3. Strain Validation

The beneficial qualities of the members of the Aphea.Bio strain collection are validated and their potential as end product is assessed. The strains are subjected to an extensive series of tests in the Aphea.Bio screening platform. Strains are tested in silico, in vitro, in planta and in agro for a wide range of characteristics relating to their potential as a biocontrol agent or biostimulant. In planta tests are carried out in our state-of-the-art greenhouse and growth chambers where parameters for plant growth and plant health are meticulously monitored and integrated into statistical analysis. The most promising candidates are tested in field trials across the EU which is the final stage in the screening process. Throughout the screening process, all data is captured and stored in a comprehensive data management system.

4. Product Development

Developing a successful strain into a successful product poses very specific challenges. The strain has to be produced at high volumes, an application method needs to be found that is compliant with ruling agricultural practices and the strain needs to be packaged in a way that it can withstand storage. Aphea.Bio has the necessary expertise in house to develop customized formulations and test different applications methods. This ensures that we can match each strain with a tailor made formulation to maximize its potential.

Latest Articles

EuroChem and Aphea.Bio launch R&D collaboration

EuroChem Group AG ("EuroChem" or the "Group"), a leading global fertilizer producer, and Belgium-based biotechnology company Aphea.Bio announce the signing of a research and development agreement.

The agreement will see the two companies collaborate on the development of next-generation fertilizer technologies designed to significantly boost the take-up of key nutrients by plants. The research will utilize data and samples from scientific field trials at 10 different locations all over Europe.

EuroChem, which with the recent launch of potash mining became one of just three companies in the world to produce fertilizers in all three primary nutrient categories, is developing enhanced efficiency and slow-release fertilizers that are optimized for different soil conditions. These help improve yields and enable farmers to grow more crops from the same amount of land, vital as the world's population continues to grow. The increased nutrient uptake also minimizes losses to the environment.

Dr Thomas Mannheim (head of Global R&D for Premium Products EuroChem):"This agreement will further strengthen EuroChem's commitment to investing in innovation. We are committed to helping farmers optimize resource use and enabling them to enhance their yields and economic benefit."

Dr. Isabel Vercauteren (CEO Aphea.Bio):"We are delighted to have signed EuroChem as our first commercial partner. EuroChem has deep expertise in the mineral fertilizer sector and we look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration together."

Commercial terms of the agreement between the two companies have not been disclosed.

Aphea.Bio aims at leading position in next generation agricultural biologicals

New VIB spin-off launches with 9 million euros in funding

VIB, Ghent University and KU Leuven have launched a new spin-off: Aphea.Bio. This new company will develop sustainable agricultural products based on natural microorganisms to increase crop yields and to protect them against specific fungal diseases. Thanks to a successful Series A financing round and an R&D grant approved by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), Aphea.Bio is now backed by 9 million euros of funding, giving it a clear shot at a leading position in the fast-emerging market of biopesticides and biostimulants. Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, Aphea.Bio will be led by CEO Dr. Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Dr. Steven Vandenabeele.

The VIB spin-off pulls together resources and expertise in plant-bacteria interactions of the lab of prof. Sofie Goormachtig (VIB-Ghent University) and microbiome know-how contributed by the group of prof. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven).

Superior microorganisms for sustainable agriculture

Aphea.Bio will develop next generation 'biopesticides' based on natural microorganisms. These products will provide an alternative for chemical pesticides, which are currently under serious pressure. In addition, the company will develop novel 'biostimulants', i.e. microorganisms that stimulate crop growth, for example through promoting the uptake of nutrients from the soil.

Dr. Isabel Vercauteren (CEO Aphea.Bio):"This financing puts us in an excellent position to develop new and superior agricultural products based on naturally occurring microorganisms that have a growth promoting or protective effect on the plant. We distinguish ourselves in this growing and competitive market through our unique technology platform. A large number of microorganisms that coexist with plants haven't been isolated so far, yet our expertise allows us to exploit this untapped microbial space. Our applications are focused on staple crops such as wheat, barley and maize, because they offer the most valuable European and global market opportunities."

Successful funding round

In total, Aphea.Bio has raised 7.7 million euros in capital. The series A financing round was led by V-Bio Ventures and was joined by a broad syndicate of investors including PMV, Agri Investment Fund, VIVES, Qbic II, Gemma Frisius Fund KU Leuven, Group De Ceuster and VIB itself.

Furthermore, Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) has approved an R&D grant worth 1.3 million euros, bringing Aphea.Bio's total financial resources to 9 million euros.

Dr. Willem Broekaert (Managing Partner V-Bio Ventures):"We are highly pleased to have built a strong investor consortium that provides the necessary financial backing for this innovative start-up company. This group of investors also brings along a unique network through their relationships with scientific institutions and key players in the agricultural sector."

Dr. Johan Cardoen (Managing Director VIB):"This is a great example of the vital impact of basic plant research on sustainable agriculture. All stakeholders are committed to propel Aphea.Bio into a leading position in the agro-biologicals sector. The last piece of the puzzle has been laid to make this company successful: there is now a strong team in place composed of passionate scientists with academic as well as strong industry background."

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