Characteristics of Successful Biopesticide Companies

Successful companies can be characterized by their commitment and belief in the products they make. Their enthusiasm and entrepreneurial skills help them succeed. Within the field of biopesticides it is pivotal to find your niche in the market where competition is limited. This seems to be the strategic decision that allows a company to establish its position and to gradually become successful. Examples are Becker Underwood and Enema which specialized in the production and commercialization of entomopathogenic nematodes. Others focussed on production methods for certain organisms. This is illustrated by Valent BioSciences which specialized in Bt production, and Prophyta which specialized in fungal spore-based products. Andermatt seems to have chosen to become a specialist in baculoviruses. A strong focus on a particular market can also be a key factor that makes a business grow as demonstrated by Bioworks (Evans 2004a).

Others have chosen for a broad range of products and seem to be successful in that way. This is illustrated by Koppert which produces natural enemies, micro-bial products and bumblebees; by Intrachem which produces and markets microbial products, natural enemies and plant nutrients; and by Certis which commercializes chemical as well as biological pesticides. Some companies are only active in biopesticides, some have broader activities in agriculture; others have several business areas, even not closely related areas, such as Becker Underwood and Novozymes. Many players in this field have not survived in the past, particularly when they were founded with venture capital, or when biopesticides were a side-activity. Few VC companies are active nowadays, Agraquest is one of them and they seem to do well. The large agrochemical and pharmaceutical multinationals failed and have left this field. The most common mistakes made were unchecked assumptions of how easy and cheap it is to develop and sell a biopesticide, overestimation of their own capabilities, followed by under-budgeting of the new activity (CPL 2006a).

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