Helius aims to boost cannabis yield in exclusive collaboration with BioLumic

Helius Therapeutics has entered into a New Zealand-exclusive research collaboration with Palmerston North-based agritech, BioLumic. The company has gained a license to conduct research into proprietary UV light treatments that significantly improve yield in large-scale cannabis cultivation.

BioLumic, the innovative New Zealand agriculture biotech company, has received approval from New Zealand's Ministry of Health to use its unique ultraviolet (UV) technology to stimulate the growth of medicinal cannabis crops.

BioLumic leads the world with its UV treatment of plants which increases yields and enables plants to more effectively defend themselves against disease or pest attacks. The company has taken on additional research and artificial intelligence staff and is partnering with local and international medicinal cannabis companies while commercialising the technology.

Cannabis seedlings growing in a clone chamber at the Helius cultivation facility

For this project, BioLumic is collaborating Helius Therapeutics, New Zealand's largest

medicinal cannabis company, and with James E. Wagner Cultivation (JWC), a Canadian

cannabis company in which Canopy Rivers is an investor.

With the enhanced support, BioLumic will accelerate its treatment development and it plans to be conducting commercial trials with Helius in New Zealand by June 2020.

“Receiving the Ministry of Health licence is an important milestone in the application of our UV light technology for cannabis,” said Jason Wargent, Chief Science Officer, BioLumic.

“The cannabis market is fast growing with enormous potential thanks to strong demand from the global health sector. We look forward to helping medicinal cannabis cultivators around the world meet that demand.”

BioLumic’s UV treatments stimulate key areas of plant performance by targeting specific pathways through a completely natural process. The company exposes seeds and seedlings to short duration UV treatments which increases yields significantly, as well as improving tolerance to drought, disease and pest resistance. In other flowering crops, such as strawberries, BioLumic has seen increases in flowering and fruiting by up to 60%. The company expects to see similar increases in cannabis.

A cannabis plant ready for harvest at Helius in East Tamaki, Auckland

Using its expertise in photogenics – the control of plant signalling responses to UV – and the application of artificial intelligence, BioLumic and Helius will concentrate on improving the yield of the relatively fast-growing cannabis crop, with a focus on cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), the key bio-active in medicinal cannabis.

“Our technology activates pathways that enable a natural solution to crop protection and yield enhancement. These are both critical drivers of sustainability and profit,” added Wargent.

“The collaboration with BioLumic furthers our commitment to developing the world’s safest and most efficacious cannabis medicines,” added Paul Manning, co-CEO, Helius Therapeutics.

“Scientific innovation, above all else, will determine the success of companies like ours in New Zealand’s emerging cannabis sector. We’re looking forward to our ongoing collaboration with BioLumic to enhance our medical cannabis crops.”

Earlier this year, the company, BioLumic received a US$1.5 million investment from Canopy Rivers, a Canada-based venture capital firm specialising in cannabis. This was part of a US$6.7 million Series A capital fund raising which has helped the company grow its state-of-the-art photobiology research & development centre.

BioLumic also has an R&D team at the Bayer CoLaborator in Sacramento, California, and is already running commercial trials of its UV technology in Spain.

About BioLumic

BioLumic harnesses the power of ultraviolet (UV) light to empower growers and seed producers around the globe. Clean, green and GM-free, BioLumic's pioneering technology activates natural mechanisms in seeds and seedlings that increase plant growth, vigor, and natural defense mechanisms — resulting in increased yields at harvest. Backed by top Ag investors, BioLumic is headquartered in Palmerston North, New Zealand and is actively growing its presence in North America. To learn more, visit www.biolumic.com.

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