Feeding a Growing Population

When Marie Antoinette uttered the infamous phrase “let them eat cake’ after she was told that the poor in France had no bread to eat, she might not have been aware of the strong economic linkages between conflict, war, and food insecurity.

If she had, she may have been less dismissive of the importance of vital resources, of a strong agriculture industry, and a healthy, fed, population (and she may have kept her head).

Peter Gross, CTO of Lucent Biosciences, and a participant in the Foresight Deliver program is, (in contrast to the historically unfortunate Antoinette), well aware of the importance of feeding a growing population. “Climate change is depleting micronutrients in the soil causing low crop yields and making feeding a growing population increasingly difficult” says Gross. “We need to enrich the soil to increase food production and its nutrient value.”

Scaling Up a Transformative Technology

Lucent Biosciences is developing and producing Soileos, a sustainable, organic micronutrient fertilizer that increases crop yields and delivers essential micronutrients at lower costs due to an innovative “Biological Demand Released” uptake process by crop roots. Solios is a transformative technology – it increases crop yields in alkaline soils, enhances the nutritional value of crops, works over a broad range of pH, is completely nontoxic, and generates no groundwater pollution.

When Gross first joined the Foresight Deliver program, Lucent was in the process of forming the business structures and financing required to take an innovation from the lab to the field. “We were going from laboratory scale to pilot scale. Up until that time, we were synthesized at SFU, at the lab level. We knew we had to scale up to go out into industry, but didn’t have any experience at that level.”

Foresight guided Gross and his team through the whole process, providing them with mentoring, resources, connections, and hands-on consulting and help. As Gross says “I called our EiR, David Sanguinetti, ‘Mr. Scale Up’ because he really understood our process, what we were trying to accomplish, and what the best manifestation of this scale up should be. The experience was invaluable.”

Foresight CEO Jeanette Jackson is fully behind Lucent. “They have an inspirational vision, supported by technology and a team that’s going to execute. I’m excited to see their plans unfold.”

Jackson may not have to wait very long – since working with Foresight, the Lucent team has had a string of successes:

  1. Placed #1 at the Seattle Angel Investor conference out of 40 participating companies.
  2. Finalizing a distribution agreement with a leading fertilizer distributor based in Canada.
  3. Established a strategic partnership with a $2Bil food processing company to use their agricultural waste and convert it into a high value agricultural fertilizers.
  4. In final stages for approximately $3M in R&D grants.
  5. Recently closed $550k of a $750k funding round.

Gross attributes much of their early funding success to what he learned at Foresight – “Foresight’s program was really valuable for us. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, they mentored us on the right path, taught us how to pitch, and brought in the expertise we needed. The very first time we pitched after working with them, we won first prize in an angel investment contest and brought in the financing we needed. The very first time!”

Congratulations to Lucent Biosciences on your growing success story – we’re looking forward to seeing this transformative technology feed the world

… now go and enjoy a well-deserved piece of cake.