Ag-West Bio invests $300K in Smart Earth Seeds

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By Ted Liu

Ag-West Bio Inc., Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry association, has approved a $300,000 investment in Smart Earth Seeds, a vertically-integrated plant breeding company developing high-omega meal and oil products derived from its proprietary camelina genetics platform.

Ag-West Bio investment is contingent on leveraging investment from other investors up to a $2 million threshold. Ag-West is now actively entertaining investment interest from other ag-tech investors while Smart Earth executes its 2017 production and marketing plan.

Camelina offers special promise as a sustainable source of the essential fatty acid ALA (an omega 3 fatty acid) as well as an ideally balanced Omega3: Omega6 ratio. Also rich in vitamin E and natural antioxidants, camelina conveys excellent health benefits for humans and for animals, particularly fish, cats, dogs and horses.

Smart Earth Seeds has generated over $1 million from sales of its camelina products, including significant sales into the aquafeed industry. Smart Earth has sought and received approvals from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for use of rich-Omega3 camelina meal as feed for broiler chickens and egg-laying hens. CFIA has recently approved camelina oil for use as a feed ingredient for salmon and trout. Exciting breakthrough markets for camelina products also include the equine and pet food industry, as well as for cattle and dairy production.

“We have established several large markets for our healthy, sustainable, high-omega products,” said Smart Earth CEO Jack Grushcow. “With our new varieties we will be more than competitive with other oilseed crops and will have a significant advantage on marginal lands. This seed investment gives us the opportunity to get to the next level of marketability and commercial traction.”

Ag-West Bio’s technology commercialization fund approves two investments annually on average, ranging from $50,000 to $300,000. Approvals are based on a comprehensive review of the significance of the technology, market opportunity and company growth potential. Since inception in 1989, Ag-West Bio has made or managed investments in over 60 different bioscience companies, valued at more than $13.2 million.

Funding for Ag-West Bio is provided the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward II program, with support from Western Economic Diversification Canada and the National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program.

photo credit: Smart Earth Seeds