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 Oftentimes when we think of startups our minds take us to apps, websites and tricks to make our lives simpler. An often-overlooked part of the startup world is the biotech industry. We recently spoke with Sid Martin Biotech about their impact on the space and they were kind enough to put us in touch with some of their impressive companies.

Syngenta is one such company. The minds behind it have figured out an incredible solution to an agricultural problem the world as a whole was facing. I was able to speak to Kelly Smith, the site head, and she explained to me just how impactful the company is.

What exactly is Syngenta?

Syngenta is one of the world’s largest crop protection companies.  They do business all over the world, providing solutions to growers with plant varieties, pest control products, and a large number of other products.



What was the inspiration behind the product?

The inspiration for our products was an unmet pest control need.  Our products control plant-parasitic nematodes, which are microscopic roundworms that attack plant roots. They cause an estimated $100 billion in crop damage annually, or up to 12 percent of yield loss, which is a lot of food!  There are a very small number of crop protection products that will successfully control them, and many of those were very toxic and removed from the market. We recognized this and developed a method to produce a safe, non-toxic control for these pests.

What has the response to your product been?

The response to our products has been tremendous – people really respond to this story, about an effective, safe product that is also going to help feed the world. 

Are you global?

Currently we only have products registered for sale in the United States, but the pipeline is full of products that will also be sold overseas.  Probably the first foreign markets will be Brazil and Europe, but a lot depends on the speed of getting regulatory approval in those regions.



What exactly is your role in the company?

I’m the site head, which within Syngenta means that I am the scientific leader and administrator of our group located here in Florida.  It’s been a pretty smooth transition from leading a startup since they left our team here intact and continuing to do what we do best – develop good products.

What’s next for Syngenta?

We are focused on our product launch planned for 2014, which will be the first large commercial biological nematode control product.

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Gabrielle Belavsky
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