The country’s largest licensed medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, has today announced its innovation partnership with leading ag-tech start-up BioLumic, which has secured significant financial backing from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Helius Therapeutics says the $2.5m high-level support, together with its own multi-million-dollar investment into plant science innovation, will ultimately ensure the strong demand for medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand can be met into the future.
“This five-year grant from MBIE will support strong ongoing collaboration between BioLumic and Helius, furthering our own investment. It will build on the partnership we have established with BioLumic in the New Zealand medicinal cannabis market,” says Paul Manning, Executive Director of Helius Therapeutics.
Palmerston North-based BioLumic are world-leading developers of sustainable ultraviolet (UV) crop yield enhancement.
“BioLumic’s announcement of another major financial injection into their crop intensification platform is very exciting. In the cannabis industry, yield is king. Harnessing this technology has the potential to create a significant competitive advantage to Helius, as cannabis crops could yield up to 30% more flower under the proprietary UV light system,” says Paul Manning.
The UV technology delivers ultraviolet light to seeds and seedlings to trigger biological mechanisms that increase cannabis plant growth, vigour and yields. It’s world-first technology that’s clean, green and GM free.
Crop yield is a primary focus in cannabis cultivation. Helius and BioLumic aim to use their UV treatments to stimulate strengthening and hardiness in cannabis plants, which leads to increased growth rates during the crop cycle. Using UV photomorphogenic responses – where plant growth patterns respond to the light spectrum – aims to deliver increased biomass of harvestable cannabis flower, and increased consistency of final yields, producing more of the plant’s valuable cannabinoids and terpenes.
Mr Manning believes New Zealand could become a centre of excellence for cannabis innovation globally. He says BioLumic’s ongoing success and international recognition as a cutting-edge ag-tech business, supporting the country’s newest industry, will only advance that aspiration.
“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. Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis are relying on us and this significant investment by MBIE will further our absolute commitment to world-class delivery.”
Dr Jason Wargent, BioLumic co-founder and Chief Science Officer, estimates that the MBIE-backed research will add $0.6bn to $1.2bn per annum in exports, and the international business will put New Zealand at the forefront of agriculture innovation.
“The conventional ways of producing crops inevitably involve land use and traditional agro-chemical inputs. Everything we are doing here is about producing more crops that are higher yielding and more nutritious using less land, intensifying our ability to get more with less,” says Dr Wargent.
Announcing the grant, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said partnerships like this “will see lasting benefits for New Zealand’s economy.”