FA Bio’s unique soil diagnostic tools target sustainable agricultural solutions | Imperial News


Imperial startup FA Bio has made substantial technical and business progress following a seed investment in 2021 and rebranded to FungiAlert.

The company was founded to develop the tools that enable the early detection of soil pathogens and provide growers with microbial soil analysis to support sustainable agriculture. The name change to FA Bio was announced following substantial technological and commercial development. The company is shifting its focus from detecting and identifying specific pathogens using its unique diagnostic tools to analyzing the unique microbial content of soil and finding sustainable agricultural solutions.

FA Bio (formerly FungiAlert) was founded in 2015 by Imperial PhD graduates Dr. Angela De Manzanos Guinot and Dr. Kerry O’Donnelly Weaver to develop tools to quickly alert farmers to the presence of pathogens threatening. After winning a series of entrepreneurial programs, its technology was patented and the co-founders left full-time after completing their doctoral studies.

Following an investment from Sussex Place Ventures and Dr Paul Atherton, a leading British serial entrepreneur and Imperial alumnus, the company moved to world-leading Rothhamsted Research Center and began commercializing its technology. Sportsenz.

The company raised seed investment in 2021 and grew to a team of 9

Ground detection

FA Bio has deployed its SporSenZ soil microbial analysis tool in 30 countries across Europe, Africa and the Americas. Over 2,500 kits have been used by crop growers, with the resulting data providing high quality data and microbial isolates from agricultural fields.

SporSenZ kits are provided to growers of a wide range of food crops, with the aim of analyzing not only the unique microbial content of the soil at different locations, but also the relationship between microbes and crops.

Natural improvement

Customer engagement has shown FA Bio that crop growers want to understand microbial activity in their soil holistically, rather than focusing on individual pathogens. Modern farming techniques often seek to control the microbial environment of the soil, but there are few durable or affordable tools in this space. This leads to the use of agrochemicals such as fertilizers and fungicides, which can cause damage to the natural environment. An example is the damage done to rivers by agrochemical runoff due to poor uptake of phosphorus fertilizers by many crops.

“Our natural ecosystems face many threats, and one of them is the environmental damage caused by certain agrochemicals. Currently, 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come directly from synthetic fertilizers and 75 % of global nitrous oxide emissions are related to agriculture.We believe that by improving our understanding of the soil and its microbiota, we can identify and develop breakthrough bioproducts that can replace or enhance agrochemicals, minimizing degradation while improving crop yields to ensure food security,” said Dr. Angela De Manzanos Guinot, CEO of FA Bio.

In order to achieve its mission, FA Bio is composed of two underlying elements, FA BioLab and FA BioAg, each having different but complementary functions. FA BioLab focuses on studying soil microbial communities to collect crop-targeted microbial libraries. FA BioAg focuses on identifying and studying the biotechnological potential of soil microbes to develop into superior bioproducts (biofungicides and biofertilizers) for agriculture.

The FA Bio website

A member of the FA Bio research team working in the lab

FA Bio and Imperial College London

Following its formation at Imperial in 2015, FA Bio achieved rapid early success, winning Imperial’s flagship accelerator program, the Venture Catalyst Challenge the same year. Also in 2015, FA Bio was a WE Innovate finalist and won the CDT Den competition, after which its pathogen detection technology was patented.

In addition to their successful participation in entrepreneurship programs, the co-founders of FA Bio have acted as mentors for WE Innovate and the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS), providing information and support to the next generation. of Imperial contractors.

“We are extremely grateful to Imperial Enterprise, not only for the opportunities they have provided to enhance the visibility of our value proposition, but also for inviting me to be a WE Innovate peer mentor. Being a peer mentor m “Exposes to great new ideas. and enthusiastic students, which I find truly inspiring. I’m proud to have the opportunity to give back and encourage other young female founders to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. a said Dr. Angela De Manzanos Guinot, CEO of FA Bio.

Imperial Enterprise Division

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