Forbes AgTech Summit Honours Microgen Biotech


Steve Forbes meets Xuemei GermaineIrish company and Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow) spin-out MicroGen Biotech is basking in its success having won the Thrive Sustainability award at the recent Forbes AgTech Summit in California.

Thrive is an agritech venture and innovation platform founded by Irish man John Hartnett’s SVG Partners in 2014. Thrive’s open innovation Seed Accelerator programme was created to help innovative tech companies disrupt, scale and lead in the global agritech market.

The win is yet another coup for MicroGen Biotech, which was established three years ago as an Irish High-Potential Start-Up (HPSU) spin-out from the EnviroCORE research group at IT Carlow. Headed by Dr. Xuemei Germaine, MicroGen Biotech applies constructed, functional microbiome technology to increase crop yield and health, while protecting food safety by remediating pollutants and improving soil fertility. The start-up has developed a fast and efficient technology that allows identification of functional microbes in four months – a process that can typically take years.

Speaking at the Forbes event, Germaine said: “We have demonstrated that, globally, our technology can bring down toxic pollutant levels found in food by up to 50%.”

The Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations last month released an article entitled Soil pollution is under scrutiny in which it stated “soil pollutant, such as cadmium, arsenic is up taken by crops and accumulating in our body to cause health problem, such as cancer; currently there is no solutions, and we need to work together to solve this problem”.

Commenting on the issue, Dr. Germaine said, “We’ve been approached by many US and global growers, governmental agency and industrial leaders to help them to solve this problem and they have told us that they haven’t heard any companies in this area and now is the right time to address the problem”.

The sustainability award is one of several milestones for the company this year. As well as being chosen to join the THRIVE AgTech accelerator program based at the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Dr. Germaine was also a speaker on the panel “Growing diversity in agtech” at the 2017 Forces AgTech Summit. 

In 2015, MicroGen Biotech raised its seed funding from Irish and Chinese private investors and the Irish government agency, Enterprise Ireland. The company secured €1million worth of support from the Chinese government last month and recently signed several strategic alliances with leading Chinese state-owned companies such as CECEP, Shenli Oilfield, and Minegreen Ecological Restoration. 

Dr. Xuemei Germaine is a native Chinese, born and raised in China. She had a PhD degree in biotechnology from Institute of Technology Carlow and worked in life science sector for over 20 years both in China and Ireland. Dr. Germaine has extensive knowledge of Chinese market penetration of startups with disruptive technologies.  

Caption: Dr. Xuemai Germaine of MicroGen Biotech holding the Thrive Sustainability award at the recent Forbes AgTech Summit in California is pictured with Steve Forbes.