RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Ag tech companies around the world are scrambling to develop new and better ways to use safe and socially acceptable biological methods to protect food crops from diseases and pests.
Now, a transformative Belgian crop protection company, Biotalys NV, is bringing some of its $66 million of investment support to North Carolina, establishing U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park.
The U.S. subsidiary, to be known as Biotalys, Inc., will be led by Diego Angelo, who also holds the newly created role of chief business officer. Working from the Landing Pad office space at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Angelo will be preparing for the U.S. commercial launch of the company’s lead biofungicide, BioFun-1.
BioFun-1 is the first product candidate from Biotalys’ breakthrough platform of protein-based biocontrol solutions for safe and sustainable crop protection and food waste reduction. The company says BioFun-1 has demonstrated consistent, high efficacy against major pests, such as Botrytis cinereal and powdery mildew, in a global fruit and vegetables field trial. The company is on track to submit the registration dossiers later in 2020 and expects to launch BioFun-1 in the U.S.in 2022, followed by global market introductions.
Reporting to the CEO, Patrice Sellès, Ph.D., and working with the executive team, Angelo will focus on putting a strong team in place while leading global business development, go-to-market activities, competitive intelligence and alliance management for the company’s protein-based biocontrol solutions. Sellès is a former Triangle resident and worked in RTP as head of R&D Strategic Portfolio for Syngenta, overseeing tech scouting.
Another key member of the Biotalys team, Adrian Percy, Ph.D., is a current Triangle resident. Percy, chief technology officer of India-based ag tech company UPL, chairs the Biotalys scientific advisory board and serves on the company’s board of directors.
As part of its global expansion, Biotalys says it will continue recruiting efforts to strengthen its presence beyond North Carolina in multiple states with strong fruit and vegetable businesses. Earlier this year, Carlos Reyes joined Biotalys to lead the field development program of BioFun-1. Reyes is based in Sacramento. While the company actively builds its U.S. team and RTP office, it will continue to apply COVID-19-related physical distancing standards and remote work guidelines to ensure the safety of its growing U.S. team.
RTP ‘at the center of the ag and food tech ecosystem’
“Our new U.S. headquarters puts us at the center of the ag and food tech ecosystem,” said Sellès. “Research Triangle Park offers an incredible talent pool of experts in the ag and biotech communities, while serving as an ideal bridge between our European and North American teams as we bring our breakthrough biocontrol solutions to farmers around the globe.
“Angelo brings tremendous expertise, a significant international network and strong business track record. He will be charged with fully exploring potential growth opportunities for our technology platform around the globe.”
Following the recent closing of its Series C round, Biotalys is finalizing its next field trial program and preparing to submit the regulatory dossier for BioFun-1. Biotalys aims to deliver a broad lineup of products that safely and reliably address key crop pests and diseases across the ag and food value chain.
“I am passionate about innovation and utilizing breakthrough technologies to address global food and environmental challenges, while helping growers improve crop yields and farming practices,” said Angelo. “Biotalys’ disruptive technology and lead biofungicide, BioFun-1, are uniquely positioned to address unmet needs of the food value chain, from efficacy to residue control and shelf-life management. I look forward to working with the team on the launch of our multiple mode-of-action pipeline, starting with the 2022 launch of BioFun-1 in the United States.”
Prior to joining Biotalys, Angelo served as chief commercial officer at Sound Agriculture, where he successfully engineered the launch of its first commercial product and secured multiple deals in the crop enhancement and epigenetics spaces. Before that, he held multiple commercial leadership roles at BASF, Bayer and Monsanto, where he built a broad network in all major agricultural markets, including the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Europe, and developed expertise in the crop protection, and seeds and traits businesses.
He led the growth of the Bayer soybean seeds and traits business, making it a global franchise, and played a key role in its seamless integration into BASF. Notably, in the United States, he was instrumental in the launch of the LibertyLink technology, which is now a foundational technology for weed control.
Angelo earned an undergraduate degree in ag management from Universidad Argentina de la Empresa and an MBA from Centro de Estudios Macroeconómicos de Argentina, both in Argentina.
Triangle ag assets provide a comfortable fit
“It does not surprise me that Biotalys selected North Carolina as the location of its U.S. headquarters,” said Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., executive director of NCBiotech’s Crop Commercialization Program. “Both the CEO and the head of the scientific advisory board know the strong ag tech ecosystem in the state, with the available infrastructure and talent to help Biotalys grow.
“RTP has become a global hub of biologic controls for crop protection and food preservation. A few examples include Vestaron, with peptide-based solutions; AgBiome with new microbial and bacterial-gene discoveries; and Novozymes BioAg as a commercial partner across the agribusiness value chain. Biotalys’ leveraging the NCBiotech Landing Pad is just the beginning of our assistance in its expansion in North Carolina.”
Biotalys was founded in 2013 as AgroSavfe NV, a spinoff from VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) and has raised €61 million ($66 million USD) to date from specialist international investors. The company, which changed its name to Biotalys last December, is based in the biotech cluster in Ghent, Belgium.
Significantly, North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has a strong working relationship with Belgium’s VIB.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center