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BigSis closes oversubscribed seed plus round at £1.5 million

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BigSis, the British agtech start-up promising low-regulation, chemical-free control for the majority of the world’s insect pests in horticulture and agriculture, announced it has closed its £1.5 million Seed Plus financing round, following success with key laboratory and testing milestones.

The funding, which has a pre-money valuation of £5 million, will allow BigSis to hit three key milestones for its first commercial solution, the control of spotted wing drosophila (SWD).

The company uses the sterile insect technique (SIT), a tool where sterile males are released to mate with wild females and so reduce the pest population. It is species-specific, non-toxic and not susceptible to resistance. However, the conventional SIT process is cost-intensive, making it uneconomical for most market sectors.
BigSis said it has developed an innovative automated production system, slashing the cost of SIT solutions by up to 90 per cent. Harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the BigSis SIT platform raises insects individually, facilitating automated sex-sorting and targeted X-ray sterilization that reduces the ‘fitness penalty’ on the released insects. Mass production is fully scalable, while remaining cost-effective at a local level. This enables micro-production units that can use local, native insects wherever a need is identified.
The Seed Plus round will allow BigSis to hit three key milestones for its SWD offer within nine months: finalizing the first field-scale trial, which is in collaboration with a major UK berry grower; the completion of the pilot production line, allowing expanded field trials in 2022; and potential first sales, subject to trial results.
“Growers around the world have an urgent need for sustainable alternatives to chemical insecticides,” says Glen Slade, BigSis Founder and CEO. “Globally, the insect control market is worth over £18 billion, with chemical control constituting more than two-thirds of that value.
“SIT accounts for just one per cent of that value at present, but it is technically capable of substituting the majority of chemical insecticide use,” adds Slade. “With affordable SIT solutions, BigSis expects to become a multi-billion pound crop protection company.”
BigSis can currently sell in England and four U.S. states, with zero regulatory cost and zero delay in securing approvals.
The success of the Seed Plus round takes BigSis closer to its plans for a Series A round in the first half of 2022, supported by these important validations. Those funds will be used to expand production and internationalization of the SWD solution, as well as progressing commercialization of its next SIT solution, for codling moth, and developing a broader portfolio.
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