Umeå Biotech Incubator has traditionally attracted ideas in diagnostics, biotechnology and medical technology. Daniel Pacurar and Jonathan Love are breaking new ground with their ideas which are sorted into, for UBI, completely new areas.
”We have only seen the beginning of the development in areas such as biotechnology, agtech and foodtech. UBI wants to be the world’s best incubator in life science and it goes without saying that we are preparing space for exciting ideas in these new areas, which can strengthen both Umeå as a life science region and Sweden as a life science nation” says Jennie Ekbeck, CEO of UBI.
Manufacturable moss that can decorate buildings and infrastructure
Daniel Pacurar is a multi-entrepreneur in green biotechnology. He is the founder of Boreal Orchards AB and Co-founder of Nextree AB, two startups aiming to change the landscape in Adaptive Agriculture and AgBioTech sectors, starting with the Boreal region. He has a BSc and an MSc degree in horticultural engineering and a Ph.D. in Agronomy, Plant Breeding, and Molecular Biology. He has over 20 years of international R&D&I, consultancy and leadership experience, both in academia and private agri/biotech sectors.
The idea he is now pursuing at UBI is to develop a manufacturable moss that should be able to e.g. enhance well-being by capturing pollutants while releasing oxygen, provide ecosystem services by decorating buildings and infrastructure, and support ecosystem restoration, among other benefits.
“Shades Of Green is a biotecture (Biotech/Architecture) concept that uniquely merges through a multidisciplinary approach plant/green biotech with architecture and design and materials science to deliver solutions for indoor and outdoor spaces that are both functional and esthetic, packaged into a genuine Scandinavian biotecture concept,” Daniel says, and explains why he applied to UBI:
”Besides offering much-needed lab facility and financial support, UBI is well positioned and has track record expertise in supporting life science companies with their particularities and often longer time to market. Being under the UBI umbrella and network could also open some doors and get the message out.”
Cropcision addresses the need to find a step-change in farm input efficiency
The other groundbreaking UBI case belongs to Jonathan Love with his company Cropcision. Jonathan has a broad background in forestry and agriculture. He studied forestry at the University of Melbourne and then worked as a forest manager in Australia and Vanuatu before doing a Ph.D. at the Umeå Plant Science Centre. He’s also been engaged in agricultural research, in New Zealand, working on pasture and cropping systems.
He founded Cropcision to address the need to find a step-change in farm input efficiency and aligns with the EU Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategic objective to reduce the risk of nutrient losses and those posed by pesticide use by at least 50 percent while ensuring food security.
“Our value proposition aims to address the perfect storm of compounding challenges: to increase farm productivity, adapt to climate change and de-risk inputs (both financially and environmentally)” Jonathan says before adding:
“We are working towards our first patent…so all I can say is “watch this space”!
Jonathan has been aware of UBI for a long time, was inspired by Spinchem’s work and was attracted by UBI’s role as an engine for the Life science community in Umeå. He applied to UBI for financial and practical support, but also because he wanted good advice and to navigate the tricky startup world.
Valuable feedback and coaching from UBI
“I have seen first-hand how echo chambers can destroy value and my coach, Lisandro Bernardo, helps guard the business against such cognitive biases by continuously asking critical questions.”
“It is common for start-ups to face a credibility challenge. In these early days, UBI helps Cropcision to overcome this by simply being housed in a reputable Incubator. It means any interested stakeholder knows the business idea and team have been professionally vetted and basic due diligence has been performed.”
Daniel Pacurar hopes that his and Jonathan’s case can inspire other innovators in green biotech, ag-tech, or food tech who want to develop their ideas further.
“The region needs a critical mass of green biotech/ag-tech companies in order for the sector to grow, in the same way, the sister Pharma and MedTech sectors are growing. We are already on the track of changing that and I feel honored to have UBI on our side” Daniel explains and then summons up:
“The farms and food systems of the future will perform same functions, but the crops they will produce will grow on more than soil, on layers of embedded technology, data, knowledge, and also millennia accumulated (but often forgotten) wisdom that we must reclaim. This is what I want to contribute to, and I support through my current activities, and I believe will be able to enhance and multiply many times over with the support of strategic partners like UBI.”