Healthycrop: Development of fungal-resistant crops paves the way for global licensing agreements

The predicted global food shortage means that players in agriculture must think in new ways to ensure enough food for everyone in the future. The company Healthycrop has found an enzyme that fights fungal infections in cereals and other crops, which could be a game changer for the world’s food producers.

Cereal crops are constantly at risk of being attacked by fungi that can break down plant cells. The fungi produce microtoxins, kill the plants, and ultimately destroy the harvest. So, many farms are forced to spray their crops with pesticides to avoid fungal attacks. Today, we set high standards for pesticide-free agriculture, but the world’s pressing food situation means that each field must provide as much food as possible without risking waste. Therefore, new solutions are needed.

Healthycrop is a spinoff company from Aarhus University, which develops fungal-resistant crops by utilizing an enzyme that the plant itself produces, which plays a major role in resistance to fungal infections.

Our goal is to create a pesticide-free agriculture, where we also ensure that no food is lost due to fungal infections.

Pernille Ollendorff Hede
CEO I Healthycrop

– Our enzyme fights the fungus using the plant’s own defense tools. Our primary focus has been to develop fungal-resistant cereals such as barley, maize and now wheat, and continuing with other important crops. Our goal is to create a pesticide-free agriculture, where we also ensure that no food is lost due to fungal infections. In the USA alone, several million cultivated maize plants are lost every year, says Pernille Ollendorff Hede, CEO at Healthycrop.

In addition to securing food for the future, Healthycrop’s technology will also ensure fewer pesticide residues in drinking water and that biodiversity will thrive when the number of pesticides is reduced. Farmers will even save both money and CO2 by using this technology rather than spraying their fields.

Sales through license agreements are dependent on patents

Healthycrop’s business model consists of negotiating license agreements with large, global seed producers, who gain access to using Healthycrop’s technology. Guardian IP Consulting helps Healthycrop with patent strategy and ensures that the patent covers the plants the company would like to include in their product development.

– To obtain broad patent protection for Healthycrop, we have used strong patent/technical argumentation to convince the patent authorities. Our work for Healthycrop and other biotech companies rest on a strong research background and a deep insight into their technology and future exploitation, says Verena Simpson, European Patent Attorney, and partner at Guardian IP Consulting, who herself has many years of research experience.

Healthycrop has currently applied for a patent in the EU, USA, Canada, Brazil, and Australia. Especially the patent in the USA is very broad and covers all crops, which in addition to cereals includes soybeans and maize. And this broad coverage means the world for Healthycrop.

It means everything to us that we can protect our intellectual property rights. Without it, we wouldn’t have a business.

Pernille Ollendorff Hede
CEO I Healthycrop

The big producers can do gene editing themselves at the same level as us and they also have the large machinery to launch it. But they cannot devote the many years of research that we have been able to at Aarhus University. More than ten years of development lie behind our product, says Pernille Ollendorff Hede and continues:

– I rely enormously on Verena in our collaboration. I have a background in plant molecular biology, but I am very dependent on Verena’s patent expertise and her recommendations.

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