I think it was 2014 when VIB’s Innovation & Business Team initiated the talks with our lab and research center. Just like us, they saw the business potential in the field of plant-protecting and plant-stimulating microorganisms. Of course, that didn’t come out of nowhere: we had the expertise, biological agricultural products were becoming a hot topic, and the technology was finally ready. All the pieces of the puzzle were present to sketch out what would later become Aphea.Bio.
In the fast-emerging market of sustainable alternatives for chemical agricultural products, VIB spin-off Aphea.Bio is the new kid in town – or rather: in the wheat, barley and maize fields. Launched in June, the start-up’s offices in the Ghent-based Bio-Accelerator are still looking spic and span. However, Scientific Advisor Sofie Goormachtig (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology), CEO Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Steven Vandenabeele have already spent three exciting years on the project. They’re happy to look back on the highlights, and give us a glimpse of what the future might bring.
VIB, Ghent University and KU Leuven have launched a new spin-off: Aphea.Bio. This new company will develop sustainable agricultural products based on natural microorganisms to increase crop yields and to protect them against specific fungal diseases. Thanks to a successful Series A financing round and an R&D grant approved by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), Aphea.Bio is now backed by 9 million euros of funding, giving it a clear shot at a leading position in the fast-emerging market of biopesticides and biostimulants. Headquartered in Ghent , Belgium, Aphea.Bio will be led by CEO Dr. Isabel Vercauteren and CSO Dr. Steven Vandenabeele.
On 15 January 2016, VIB and the Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research (ILVO) signed a strategic collaboration agreement. This unique alliance brings together two partners with complementary expertise, thereby creating a strong bridge between the research laboratory and the field. VIB will be responsible for basic research and the ILVO will use applied research and field work to study the results in more depth. This combination of forces will mean that scientific discoveries can be translated more rapidly into tangible added value for farmers, society and the environment. The agreement was signed at the ILVO campus in Melle in the presence of Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport.