VIB spin-off Agrosavfe ready to conquer the world of biopesticides

4 August 2017
This spring VIB spin-off AgroSavfe welcomed seasoned manager and life sciences expert Luc Maertens as CEO. The company also extended its financing round, attracting a total of EUR 11 million with a major investment from Sofinnova Partners, a reputed international life sciences investment fund. With an expanded management team and fresh funding, the agro-biotech start-up is gearing up to become a world player in bio-pesticides.

Established in 2013, AgroSavfe creates nextgeneration bio-pesticides for the control of pests and diseases of crops and harvested products. The basis of these bio-pesticides are Agrobodies®: small proteins designed and formulated to specifically bind to essential target molecules of crop pests and diseases. The really good news?
They are safe and environmentally friendly, and can be produced cost-effectively. At its R&D center in the Technologiepark in Ghent, AgroSavfe has now generated Agrobodies® with anti-fungal activity, which are being developed into a new class of bio-fungicides.

Strengthened management team
In view of the transition of the company from its research into its product development phase, the management team was recently expanded. Luc Maertens, who packs 20 years of experience in strategy development and implementation in the agro-industry, was appointed CEO and joined the AgroSavfe board. Marnix Peferoen, who has led AgroSavfe since its inception and led the team that created the Agrobody® technology platform, was appointed as Chief Technology Officer. “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead the company in its next growth phase,” Luc said in an official statement. “We will work together with the
team and all stakeholders to develop and introduce the next generation biological control agents to make agriculture and horticulture more productive and sustainable.” The Agrobody® technology platform is in place, and has delivered a first generation of bio-fungicides.

Fresh funding
In March 2017, AgroSavfe added another chapter to its ongoing success story when its latest financing round reached EUR 11 million. The biggest investor was Sofinnova Partners, a leading European venture capital firm specialized in life sciences. Earlier investors in AgroSavfe include Agri Investment Fund, Biovest, Gimv, Globachem, Madeli Participaties, PMV, Qbic, some private investors and VIB itself.

Sofinnova Partners, which focuses on paradigmshifting technologies, was clearly impressed with the potential of the Agrobody® technology. “Agro chemicals, and in particular fungicides and insecticides, are huge markets that biologicals can address if they can be scaled up and produced at competitive cost compared to chemical compounds,” said Denis Lucquin, Sofinnova’s managing partner, who also joined
AgroSavfe’s board.

World domination
With this latest capital injection, AgroSavfe can further accelerate the development of Agrobodies®
as a new class of bio-pesticides and roll out the international registration process.