PheroSyn, the company spun-out from Rothamsted Research to develop and produce novel pheromones, has been awarded part of Innovate UK’s £134 million Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF) to help development of its new pest insect pheromones. The funds will be used in a project to optimise sustainable green chemistry routes for the production of two high value pear midge pheromones.

The six month experimental development project will enable PheroSyn to expand its portfolio by developing novel pear midge pheromones into effective commercial products that will find use in midge-specific traps, capable of detecting early stage infestations of midges in crops.

Midges are tiny flying insects that affect a variety of crops and are a significant global pest of arable and horticultural food production. Management of midges currently relies on pesticides, and these can then enter the human and animal food chain. While pheromones are used increasingly to manage pests, there are virtually no midge sex pheromones currently available on the market.

“We are very grateful for this SIF funding, which will accelerate our technical and commercial development, and ultimately lead to our supplying effective, sensitive, long-lasting, safe and affordable tools to farmers and growers on a global scale”, said Daniel Bahia, Business Manager at PheroSyn and part of the PheroSyn team that has over 40 years’ experience in pest pheromone chemistry. “Without the funding, our efforts would have been delayed by several months due to the pandemic.”

Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell said: “In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy.

“PheroSyn, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”

The winners of Innovate UK’s SIF were confirmed by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.