Introduction

The development and commercialization of biopesticides has attracted many companies during the last 40 years. Many products have reached the market, but the majority has not really been successful. Overall, biopesticides only comprise a small share of the world market for crop protection products, 1-2%. Many companies have failed and left this business; some remain, but the profitability of the

W.J. Ravensberg, A Roadmap to the Successful Development and Commercialization 295

of Microbial Pest Control Products for Control of Arthropods, Progress in Biological Control 10, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-0437-4_7, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

survivors is doubtful. Nevertheless, the biopesticide market is steadily growing, by approximately 10% annually. Many people consider the future for these products to be positive, due to environmental awareness and the negative perception of chemical pesticides in general. Microbial control agents offer an array of opportunities for the development of crop protection products. Academic scientists as well as industrial researchers have made enormous progress over the years in improving all kinds of biological and technical features. Entrepreneurs who are contemplating the development of microbial pest control products, however, face a complex matrix of biological, technical, regulatory and commercial challenges. The first two have extensively been addressed in previous chapters, as is registration which is still a major hurdle before products can be introduced in the market. In this chapter I will address the critical factors in the process of commercialization that determine success or failure. I consider a company successful when the production and sale of a biopesticide provides a sustainable, growing, and profitable business which is able to develop new markets and products. Both product and company determine whether success can be achieved.

The concept commercialization is frequently mentioned in papers on the development and use of biopesticides. In general, authors refer to commercialization as the whole process of product development including all its stages, and further, registration and market introduction (Tormala 1995; Carlton 1996; Cross and Polonenko 1996; Stewart 2001; Montesinos 2003; Fravel 2005). This broad concept is confusing and meaningless, and in no way assists in understanding what it takes to commercialize a new product in a business environment. I separate new product development, as described in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 6, from the commercialization process. To distinguish these developmental and operational aspects from the task of bringing a new product to the market I will use a narrower definition here: commercialization is the management process that provides structure in developing and bringing a new product to the market. Effective implementation of this step-by-step process is needed to coordinate the gathering of information, the establishment a project plan, the taking of decisions, and the translating of these into resources, operational requirements and functions, and the coordination of these activities to bring the product to the market in an economical and profitable way. In this chapter I will focus on the business and management aspects of this commercialization process. Further, the history of biocontrol companies and entomopathogenic products is presented with an emphasis on the European market. The currently active companies as well as the available products based on bacteria, fungi, baculoviruses, and nematodes will be briefly presented.

Reliable data on the size of the biopesticide market are hard to find. Only direct industry surveys have been able to report reliable data (CPL 2006a). Recent data will be reported, particularly for the most important protected crop markets, the Netherlands and Spain. Microbial pest control products are predominantly used in niche markets which will be reported. Use in agricultural crops is limited, but it is slowly increasing. This demonstrates that these products have a role to play in any crop. For a long time, the Bt products have been the most successful products. The importance of products based on other entomopathogens is briefly discussed.

An analysis is made on the profitability of the industry based on the total sales and the number of available products in the European market. This analysis leads to the question why some companies are successful and others not. The most critical factors from a commercial point of view will be highlighted.

Companies that are contemplating the development of a microbial product need to make a final decision to start. Determinative factors related to the new product and the potential market will be identified and discussed. A decision process that facilitates making the right decision will be introduced. Various types of enterprises from small to large multinational companies have engaged in developing biopesticides. Gelernter (2005) reviewed the history of this field of business where many failed. I will present an analysis on which business model is most suited to perform well in the challenging area of biological crop protection.

Microbial pesticides are often criticized on many of their characteristics which limit their adoption in the market. Their strong and weak aspects will be reviewed, as well as new developments and technological breakthroughs that could lead to better products.

The development and registration are expensive and lengthy procedures that need to be conducted before any sales will generate income. A realistic estimate of the expenses and the time to market is critical for a company in the business plan and will influence the decision process. Every product is unique and forecasts provided in the literature vary greatly. I will provide an estimate for various situations and types of products.

The development and commercialization of each microbial pest control product is different and unique. Five decisive success factors are identified and discussed in the conclusions. When these five factors are carefully observed, the likelihood that a company will perform well, increases. Finally, I will provide ten recommendations that facilitate the development of a successful product, and company requirements that are necessary to accomplish a profitable and sustainable business.

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