Innovation . About Terraseed; Q&A session
About Terraseed; Q&A session
Article by Edwin Karinga | 21.02.2017
1. What does your company do?
We have developed a range of seedmat products for industrial horticultural use that provide excellent weed control for high-density salad crops, removing the need for some important pesticides and herbicides.
Terraseed has been competing against conventionally grown crops that use herbicides, which is a much lower cost option. However, now that herbicides have been withdrawn, we believe the market will demand a new cost-effective solution, which Terraseed is aiming to provide.
Our first generation of seedmats – currently licensed to a grower in Denmark – were created using expensive air-laid paper bonded with artificial adhesives. Due to the adhesive used, the crops produced were unable to be registered as organic.
We have since developed a novel solution called BioSeedMat based on a biodegradable paper seedmat using starch based adhesives that resolves technical and cost limitations. We are currently working towards making this commercially viable, which will include crops being registered as organic.
2. Why did you start working with Oxford Innovation?
I was first introduced to Oxford Innovation after winning a Horizon 2020 feasibility study (SME-I Phase 1) to develop and commercialise BioSeedMat. The business coaching provided by Oxford Innovation, was free of charge as part of that.
After meeting our Innovation Advisor, Jakub Rakoczy, it soon became evident that we should have been working with Oxford Innovation before applying for Horizon 2020, as they would have helped us free of charge rather than taking a percentage of the grant for their own fees.
Oxford Innovation has continued to provide Terraseed with support via the Innovate to Success programme, including helping with the completion of Phase 1, winning additional funding for an IPO audit and in preparing a Phase 2 application.
3. How have you found the process?
Understanding the funding opportunities available and how different organisations work together can be a little complex at times, but Jakub and Oxford Innovation have been expert at steering us through that process. They have provided us with a clear vision of what is available and how to move forward with applications in addition to adding valued business development.
4. What are the business benefits?
Following the initial business coaching funded by Enterprise Europe Network and delivered by Oxford Innovation, it was evident that Terraseed could benefit from on-going support.
Oxford Innovation connected us with a UK based agriculture specialist to deliver the first phase of our business coaching. Since then, we’ve worked closely with Jakub to receive business development and further access to finance such as funding needed for an IP Audit and applying for another grant (SME-I Phase 2).
Importantly, it was through our business coaching sessions that an IP Audit was suggested. This process has generated lots more ideas of how to move our product forwards in addition to making our design process more robust. We have applied for two new patents to ensure we are protected globally.
Jakub has brought an insight and enthusiasm into the whole process. It has been great to have someone who understands Terraseed who we can talk to about business strategy and also to ensure that higher-level people within the company are sharing their experiences and are on the same track.
5. What advice would you give to an ambitious business that wants to scale and develop international partnerships?
Try to ensure your shareholders or investors are made up of useful people to ensure you have within your company access to skills you need. A good place to start would be a lawyer to ensure that agreements in place are robust.
6. Where do you see Terraseed in five years time?
Sold with all shareholders receiving their expected return! As a small private equity funded company, we have limited resources to fully exploit the massive world-wide market potential of our products. Therefore we seek corporate partners to help us increase the company’s value and provide an opportunity for a profitable exit for our shareholders.