Terramera president Karn Manhas has never believed that feeding the world requires toxic chemicals – and he’s got stacks of proof.
Take the example of the field trial in a California vineyard. Half the crop was treated with the grower’s standard pesticides and fertilizers: chemicals used on most agricultural land in North America. The other half was treated with an organic product the British Columbia-based, Terramera developed from neem oil.
The results? Terramera’s plant-based solution blew the standard pesticide and fertilizer program out of the water, increasing grape yields by 64 per cent and producing berries that were 20 per cent bigger. As a result, the grower’s revenue skyrocketed from $4,960 per acre to $9,660.
The secret, Manhas explains, was finding a better way to unlock the potential of biological ingredients. To do that, Terramera spent years fine-tuning InspiriumTM. This patent-pending molecular delivery system allows biopesticides like neem to penetrate cell membranes of targets, such as pests and disease-causing organisms — achieving improved effectiveness over their chemical cousins, without environmental side effects.
Today, more farmers are becoming better informed about their use of commercial pesticides. Manhas sees big potential to fill the resulting void when Terramera launches its agricultural products in the coming years. “We can actually make conventional farming more sustainable and productive, and organic farming cheaper and more efficient,” he says.
The game-changing approach has also proven extremely effective against the resurging menace of bed bugs — so effective, in fact, that American regulators fast-tracked approvals to get it to market. Currently available in Home Depot and select Walmart locations across the U.S., Terramera’s Proof is the only EPA-registered biopesticide for bed bugs and the only product proven to kill not just adults, but nymphs and eggs as well.
As a first-time entrepreneur, Manhas spent many sleepless nights after launching Terramera in 2010. How could he fill the financing gaps? Attract the talent he needed? Get his products from the research lab to store shelves? Bioenterprise Corporation offered the assistance he needed. The agri-business accelerator connected him with investors and partners around the globe and helped him identify which applications to focus on, based on market analysis.
Bioenterprise officially launched Bioenterprise British Columbia earlier this year as a result of a strategic partnership with the BC Innovation Council (BCIC). Bioenterprise B.C. is also a member of the B.C. Acceleration Network (BCAN), an initiative of BCIC, and continues to work with innovative B.C. agri-technology companies like Terramera.
Today, Terramera is growing in leaps and bounds. A February 2016 investment round raised $10 million. IKEA GreenTech has since invested as well; their first private investment in a North American company. The company has several new biological products in the pipeline and plans to double the number of employees this year. “We have the opportunity to lead with new innovations,” says Manhas. “We couldn’t do that without the support of Bioenterprise."