Tag Archives: funding

Ellipsis Drive Raises €1.9M For Its Spatial Data Sharing Platform

Ellipsis Drive, a provider of a plug-and-play solution for using, sharing, and selling spatial data, announced today its seed round funding of €1.9 million. This funding round was led by Promus Ventures, through its Luxembourg based space investment fund, Orbital Ventures, and had participation from Techstars. 

“We are excited to back the team at Ellipsis. As geospatial datasets become more prevalent we see the need for a solution that enables the geospatial community to store, share and collaborate around these complex datasets and were impressed with the team’s vision and execution to date. We firmly believe Ellipsis Drive has the opportunity to become a standard piece of software infrastructure in the growing geospatial sector”, says Pierre Festal, partner at Promus Ventures. Together with Dr. Jonathan Fentzke, Managing Director at Techstars, Pierre will also be joining the board of Ellipsis.

Ambitious growth

Ellipsis intends to use the funds to continue to expand operations and its business reach.  And they are ambitious. “To empower organizations working with spatial data requires seamless exchange and collaboration between different user types,” says Rosalie van der Maas, CEO at Ellipsis Drive. “This funding will help us introduce Ellipsis Drive as thé solution that makes the now painful exchange of spatial content easy and profitable.”

‘Google Drive’ for spatial data

Ellipsis Drive is a data platform, where producers, users, and owners of spatial data can easily and quickly turn their files into a collaborative online project. The platform allows collaborators to share content and make project edits using tools as well as any browser. “It’s like Google Drive but for spatial data, and much more interoperable” says Minghai Jiang, co-founder and CIO.

Read the complementary article:
Founder Story of Ellipsis: Using Satellite Data and AI To Build A Better World

 

StartLife And Pymwymic Facilitating Growth Of Disruptive Agrifoodtech Startups

Worldwide the food supply chain is in dire need of innovations that aid the transition to a healthier and sustainable food system. Agrifoodtech startups with high potential solutions are now given an extra hand to get from pre-revenue stage to growth. Pymwymic, Europe’s oldest impact-driven growth investor, and StartLife, Europe’s first agrifoodtech accelerator, have partnered up to smoothen the transition between these vital startup stages and thus shorten the time needed for promising new agrifood technologies to reach their full potential.

Pymwymic typically only partakes when a startup passes an annual turnover of a half million euro. Through this partnership with StartLife, the impact investor becomes involved at a much earlier stage. This is beneficial for both Pymwymic as well as the startups, explains Rogier Pieterse, their managing director.

“We know how strategic decisions at an early-stage can impact later stage developments. Through early involvement we can help startups to better line up for growth and follow-up funding. By doing so we, both Pymwymic and StartLife, want to help startups reach their full potential faster. And when it comes to follow-up funding, it clearly helps if we have already have developed a good relationship with a startup.”

Impactful growth capital

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the pressing need for sustainable changes in the food system. In order for startups to reach a position where they can truly start making an impact, they need growth capital. For this reason, StartLife has set course to further facilitate accessing growth capital for their portfolio startups. Now we welcome Pymwymic as growth capital partner complementary to ou existing investor partners.

Both Pymwymic and StartLife target impact-driven tech startups from Europe that provide healthy and sustainable solutions within the food supply chain, from farm to fork. “With StartLife predominantly supporting pre-revenue startups and Pymwymic backing early-growth startups to scale up further, our partnership is an excellent symbiosis that paves the road for growth of much desired systemic innovation in the agri and food industry”, comments Lin Zhu, investor relations manager of StartLife.

New Health Food Systems Fund Ahead

The partnership of Pymwymic and StartLife is part of a larger collaboration agreement with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), one of StartLife’s co-founders. In the third quarter of this year, Pymwymic expects to launch a new fund called Healthy Food System Impact Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in early to growth-stage companies which are transforming the food system through innovative and disruptive technologies. The new fund will be based on the sustainable food system approach model designed by WUR.

About Pymwymic

Founded in 1994, Pymwymic is the “Put Your Money Where Your Meaning Is Community”, a co-owned organization of European wealth holders who take a frontrunner role in the transition towards investing with care for people and planet. A community that consists of over 150 individuals, families, entrepreneurs and angel investors of different backgrounds, ages and nationalities. By combining knowledge, passion and money, Pymwymic brings credibility to the impact-investing industry and continuously pushes for higher standards until investing with care for people and planet is the new norm.

 

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Viroteq Attracts Funding To Build Smart Stacking and Packaging Robot Software

Virtual_deal_closing_Virtoteq_HorizonFlevoland

Efficiently stack packages and objects of different sizes? With the intelligent on-the-fly mixed palletizer software that can make robots deal with flexible situations in a smarter way, this becomes a breeze. Viroteq makes grateful and efficient use of the latest machine vision and deep-learning techniques. Thanks to a fund managed by Horizon Flevoland, the company can now develop a prototype.

“Many stacking and packaging processes within the logistics industry are still performed by people, while this is physically very demanding and monotonous work. By using robots with our software in a smarter and more flexible way, we can automate these processes while at the same time improving the efficiency of the stack, “explains Evert van Galen, co-founder and CEO of Viroteq.

StartLife and Horizon Flevoland

“We are delighted to be able to fund this promising initiative and provide the company with the money for a working prototype. The target? Conquer the market, “said Inge Verschuur, investment manager at regional development company Horizon Flevoland.  The fund is committed to enabling entrepreneurs to grow and at the same time to realize social challenges.

Horizon Flevoland is not the only investor. StartLife also believes in the company. Within the StartLife Accelerate Fall 2020 program , Viroteq developed a “proof of principle”; an experiment aimed at determining whether the invented technology actually works and is feasible. In this program Food & Agritech startups learn what is crucial in validating their business, how to attract financiers and grow their business. In addition, the program provides seed capital, business support and access to leading companies and investors.

Efficient packing

Viroteq wants to sell their software as a licensing model, but also focuses (in collaboration with partners) on the sale of total systems. In the future, the company will not only focus on stacking crates and packages, but also on efficient packaging of the food products in these crates and packages.

Flevoland has a strong logistics sector. For example, the logistics hotspot Almere-Lelystad-Zeewolde finished third this year on the list of top logistics locations in the Netherlands. ‘The logistics sector in Flevoland offers us many opportunities and growth opportunities’, says Evert van Galen of Viroteq.

TMI Proof of Concept Fund Flevoland

Viroteq receives funding from the TMI Proof of Concept Fund Flevoland (POC Fund). This fund is managed by Horizon Flevoland and provides financing to innovative SMEs with growth ambitions that wish to invest in the development of new products or services and are in the so-called proof-of-concept phase. € 13.3 million has been made available for this by a program from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union, the province of Flevoland and the national government.

 

p.s. You can  also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Verdify Raises €750k To Create First AI-powered Platform For Personalized Nutrition

Screenshot website Verdify 13-10-2020

The Dutch Foodtech company Verdify, a StartLife alumni, has raised a seed investment of €750.000. Two private investors and AI-investment company Genzai enable the development of the world’s first AI-powered platform for fully personalized and guideline-based nutrition.

Verdify will use the funding to create the first international recipe platform with fully adaptive recipes. The company develops innovative software for assisting consumers online in healthy decision making. Verdify will enable consumers to set up their nutrition passport with detailed information about personal nutrition and health needs, fully adjustable to food and taste preferences. A wealth of matching recipe inspiration is generated on the basis of the nutrition passport, both on the Verdify platform and on the recipe websites of partnering companies.

Improving quality of life

Verdify operates from the vision that nutrition can play a fundamental role in the maintenance of health and the treatment of chronic conditions. Increased attention for nutritional intake in healthcare and -prevention settings can have a profound impact on the quality of life of many people and contribute to lowering medical expenditures. “Our aim is to provide a trusted digital environment for making food choices that are supportive of personal health. We are excited to welcome the new investors and together take key steps towards making a durable impact on health and social wellbeing” said the CEO of Verdify, Jochem Bossenbroek.

Investors

Together with AI-investment company Genzai, Verdify develops the software to power the personalized nutrition platform. Roy Lenders, CEO of Genzai: “Food is the biggest market in the world and personalized nutrition is one of the key themes in this market. We are excited to build artificial intelligent models with Verdify that can really enable personalized nutrition for consumers around the globe.” Theo Cuppen, Director of Joles B.V. and one of the private investors said: “Verdify is fully aligned with our motivation to invest in creative startups in the food industry that develop socially responsible concepts on the route from production to consumption.”

Platform integration

The recipe platform will be connected to the order & delivery systems of food retailers and meal delivery platforms to present a new level of convenience in planning and ordering personalized healthy meals. The company’s focus reaches beyond convenience in healthy eating: Verdify operates fully in harmony with national nutrition guidelines that are applied in the medical domain and dietary practice.

Verdify will also construct a software interface that can be used by companies in the food sector for personalizing their recipe content on their websites. This allows the companies to tailor meal inspiration content to the exact needs and preferences of consumers. Besides that, Verdify will offer the possibility to automatically create nutritious recipes around specific (novel) food products through application of its AI Chef.

 

p.s. Follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

Bioventure Sundew Raises €1.4M In Seed Financing

White Spot Disease - Ich_by James_Pickett
Photo by James Pickett

Sundew, an innovative bioventure targeting aquatic pests and diseases, has received €1.34 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s BioInnovation Institute, bringing its total funding raised to date to €1.4M. This funding will allow Sundew to bring its first product, for the treatment of the fish disease ‘Ich’, to market.

Aquatic pests and diseases are a major and growing global problem. Humanity becomes more and more reliant on the oceans for food and natural resources. We have an ever-increasing impact on aquatic ecosystems, ranging from the open seas to groundwater. More than ever preventing, treating and managing water transmitted pests, parasites, diseases and invasive species is vital.

Huge unmet need for aquaculture

In particular there is an urgent need for effective, affordable and environmentally-benign products that can replace the often toxic and non-degradable chemicals that are currently used, as co-founder Andy Gardiner also explains in his founder story: huge unmet need for aquaculture. Chemicals that often cause as many problems as they solve. Sundew, a Danish-Dutch startup biological technology, is developing a range of biological technology platforms to enable the creation, optimization and delivery of cost-effective, robust products with a small environmental footprint.

Sundew’s most advanced technology was initially developed under the EU Horizon 2020 ParaFishControl project by scientists at the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in Wageningen and the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Sundew has a world-wide, exclusive license to the technology and to sell products based on it.

Well ‘spotted’ business

Sundew’s first product addresses outbreaks of lchthyophthirius multifiliis, also known as just ‘Ich’ or fish white spot disease. Ich is a parasite that affects freshwater fish, including seven of the eleven most important finfish aquaculture species, such as carp, tilapia and catfish. (Freshwater fish account for nearly 90% of all farmed fish (by volume) and more than 40% of all aquaculture.) It also affects many well-known ‘ornamental’ species that are found in major display and research aquariums or in ornamental ponds or are kept as pets.

Earlier this year Sundew was awarded €0.8M from the Danish government’s green fund, GUDP, to develop this same product for use by trout farmers, where ‘Ich’ is a major seasonal problem.  The company also obtained €85.000 through the StartLife Accelerate program. The funding announced today will allow Sundew to bring this product to market for the ornamental sector.

Building a company of lasting value

Neil Goldsmith, chairman of Sundew, welcomed the investment saying, ‘this funding will enable Sundew to develop our lead product all the way to market. It is an excellent opportunity to work with two organizations, each outstanding in its area, to build a company of lasting value’.

Christian Brix Tillegreen, Senior Business Developer at BioInnovation Institute, who will be working with the company, said: ‘Sundew uses biology to tackle pests and diseases that live in water and addresses a huge unmet need in the fast-growing agriculture market as well as human health and ecological problems. Sundew’s products could help the transformation towards more sustainable industries. I am excited to work with the experienced start-up team of founders and experts and look forward to supporting their development towards the market’.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife, said, ‘It’s really pleasing to see one of our 2019 graduate companies making such excellent progress, especially given the technology link to Wageningen. We always felt that Sundew’s approach was compelling. All of us here at StartLife are very glad to have played a part in supporting their early development.’

 

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifoodtech startups, scale-ups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

 

NutriLeads Attracts €6.5M Series B Funding

Nutrileads
Source: Oost NL

Dutch Health Ingredients company Nutrileads, a StartLife alumni, has announced the closing of a Series B financing round of €6.5 million. The company will use the capital to launch its the immune-enhancing ingredient Xtramune and to progress its portfolio of health ingredients. The capital is provided by Icos Capital together with Goeie-Grutten and existing shareholders DSM Venturing, Oost NL, Shift Invest and Thuja.

NutriLeads, established in 2012 and based in Wageningen, develops innovative natural food ingredients with clinically proven health benefits for application in dietary supplements and functional foods. Its proprietary lead ingredient, XtramuneTM, is a unique carrot-derived fibre supporting immune function and resistance to respiratory infections.

Entering new phase

This series B funding round marks a new phase for the company. Together with global partners in the food and supplement industry, NutriLeads will be driving XtramuneTM towards commercialization in 2021. In addition, two other ingredients from its portfolio, targeting gut health and metabolic health, will be progressed to proof of concept in humans.

Unlocking potential

Ruud Albers, CEO of NutriLeads indicates: “We are very excited about this successful funding round which helps to propel NutriLeads forward. People can strengthen their health with nutrition. It is our ambition to unlock the potential of clinically proven food ingredients and this funding round supports that mission. It is great to see that all our investors are committed to this shared goal.”

Nityen Lal, Managing Director of ICOS Capital Management BV: “Health ingredients are sought-after by food companies and their consumers. NutriLeads has impressed us by its professionalism, the quality of the work done and their network in the industry. We are confident that this is a worthwhile investment both for our LPs as well as for the consumers who will benefit from the health ingredients to be marketed.”

 

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

StartLife Alumni Updates – May 2020

Brief updates from StartLife Alumni and Community members.

3 million euros for Cerescon’s asparagus harvesting robot

StartLife alumnus since 2015 

Cerescon's asparagus harvesting robot: Sparter

Cerescon, the developer of the very first selective asparagus harvesting robot, Sparter, seems to benefit from the impact of the coronavirus. Many growers of asparagus, the ‘white gold’, are currently confronted with a 30% shortfall in manual harvesters. “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, interest in Sparter has doubled now that harvesters are even thinner on the ground,” explains Mark van Lier, international sales manager at Cerescon. A Dutch informal has recently invested an additional 3 million euro in the company. Cerescon will be using this extra capital to boost sale and production of Sparter, after the 1-row self-propelling harvesting robot was put through its paces during the current asparagus harvesting season.

Read the full press release.


Livestock management software company Serket receives 350,000 euros early phase funding

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Serket - Livestock Management Software

Serket, a software company that aims to revolutionize the livestock farming industry, has recently been granted a loan of 350,000 euro from the Early Phase Funding initiative of Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (Netherlands Enterprise Agency). The loan is used to further develop their Piguard software, an innovative Livestock Health Management application that uses regular security cameras and artificial intelligence to identify health, reproduction and environmental changes early on and translate visual information into actionable data.


Sponsh Finalist In Europe’s Best Social Entrepreneurs Tournament

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 Cohort 

Sponsh - Water from Air

Sponsh, a Dutch startup that extracts water from air to fight water shortage, has been selected for the 2020 edition of the Social Innovation Tournament (SIT), the flagship initiative of the EIB Institute’s social program recognizing and supporting Europe’s best social entrepreneurs. The finalists, whose primary purpose is to generate a social, ethical or environmental impact, were selected from an group of 216 candidates in 31 countries. The finals take place in Lisbon on 8 October – in which all the finalists will have to present and defend their project before a jury of social innovation specialists.

 

p.s. You can also follow StartLife on LinkedinTwitter or stay up to date with the latest news about and for agrifood startups, scaleups and more via the StartLife newsletter.

FUMI Ingredients Receives Investment of Half a Million Euro for Natural Egg White Replacers

Producers of meat alternatives all over the world have long been seeking for a break-through solution that allows them to exchange egg whites for a plant-based substitute, making their products 100% vegan. FUMI Ingredients, a Wageningen University & Research spin-off, has found an alternative that is natural and at the same time more cost effective than regular egg whites. Innovation Industries and SHIFT Invest are the first to invest €500,000, which enables the company to produce their vegan proteins on a larger scale.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of their diets and the environmental impact of the foods they consume, the market for vegetarian and vegan foods is growing rapidly. A major challenge for food producers is to find an alternative for using egg whites, an animal-based ingredient, to bind ‘meat’ together. It is the final hurdle to turn plant-based meat alternatives into 100% vegan products. FUMI Ingredients may have struck gold by finding a solution that they claim is the most sustainable and economical way to produce vegan protein to date. Not surprisingly some of the world’s largest food producers have already shown their interest to the company.

Natural egg white replacers at lower costs

During his PhD study at the Bioprocess Engineering group of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), co-founder Edgar Suarez Garcia developed a process for an egg white replacer made from natural micro-organisms. After obtaining his doctorate Edgar also managed to design a proprietary and scalable production process that can beat regular egg white prices at industrial scale. A natural egg white replacer at lower production costs make the solution a double win. Considering that egg whites have a global market size of $30 billion, a cost-effective and more sustainable alternative represents a lucrative business opportunity.

Turning research into a game changing business

Both Edgar and his (former) PhD supervisor Corjan van den Berg immediately recognized the market potential and decided to investigate how to turn the research into a viable business. They founded FUMI Ingredients and with the support of WUR and startup accelerator StartLife, Edgar and Corjan further developed their company. “As academic researchers we had limited knowledge on how to set up a company. WUR and StartLife gave us all the support and resources we needed to successfully start our company and helped prepare us for raising funds.”, Corjan says.

Sebastiaan Berendse, corporate director value creation of WUR credits the Bioprocess Engineering research group and AlgaePARC led by professor Rene Wijffels for supporting FUMI Ingredients on its route towards implementation and global impact. The research group presently hosts the company at AlgaePARC where Edgar and Corjan can further develop their product.

Ready to hit the market

FUMI Ingredients will use the raised capital to realize their scale-up ambitions and to accelerate their market entry. Both SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries look forward to helping the company take the next steps in commercializing their ingredients and growing their organization, as underlined by Sander Verbrugge, Investment Director of Innovation Industries and Bram Ledeboer, partner at SHIFT Invest.

FUMI Ingredients welcomes the support of the two investors wholeheartedly. Corjan says: “The combination of SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries turned out be an excellent match. Aside from their financial support the two investing partners clearly demonstrated that they share our enthusiasm for FUMI Ingredients. We are confident about achieving sustainable growth together and make a lasting impact.

 

StartLife Alumni Updates – December 2019

Greats news about alumni and community members of StartLife,

1) Zero FoodWaste First to Raise Revenue-based Capital

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2018 cohort


Photo: Non-Dilutive Capital

Zero FoodWaste, developers of the world’s first fully automated food waste monitor, is the first startup in the Netherlands to raise funding from an investor on revenue-based terms, rather than shares. Non-Dilutive Capital invested €250,000 in return for a future share in revenues. Read the full article on Sprout (in Dutch).

2) Sundew Receives €780,000 Grant of Danish Government

alumnus of StartLife’s Fall 2019 cohort

They only just finished the accelerate program at StartLife when the Danish aqua biologicals startup Sundew was awarded a grant of €780,000 from the Danish Government. One of the reasons for Sundew to join StartLife was to prepare themselves to raise its first funding. Mission accomplished!

3) FUMI Ingredients Reaches Innovation Award Hattrick

alumnus of StartLife’s Spring 2019 cohort

FUMI Ingredients, producer-to-be of egg-white replacer made from natural micro-organisms, is gaining lots of news momentum by collecting several innovation awards. Last September they won the Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award 2019. This month they became award winner of the category ‘Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage Ingredient Award’ at the FI Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2019, as well as the overall winner of the ‘EIT Food Prize’. As 2019 is just their starting up year, co-founders Edgar Suarez and Corjan van den Berg are already looking forward to 2020.

4) Van Boven Raises €400,000 Proof-Of-Concept Funding

member of StartLife community since 2019

Van Boven has raised their first investment deal of €400,000 from regional development company Horizon. Van Boven collects crop data in the field with drones and uses smart algorithms to monitor each individual plant, head and crop in order to forecast the size of the harvest and optimum moment of harvesting. The investment is to aid in delivering proof-of-concept of their software. Read the full press release on the website of Horizon (Dutch only).

 

Hudson River Biotechnology raises seed investment round

HRB_plant and scientist

Wageningen-based CRISPR startup accelerates growth

Hudson River Biotechnology (HRB) has raised a strategic investment round, fully funding its current business plan and bringing in a team of experienced investors and entrepreneurs.

HRB is a young and highly innovative agricultural biotech company located in Wageningen (Netherlands). HRB applies novel breeding techniques such as CRISPR to develop new plant traits, and has exclusive access to a novel genetic target identification platform, called SuRE (licensed from Amsterdam-based partner company Gen-X). Their internal R&D pipeline is focused on developing innovative, new traits for plants that are used to produce high-value compounds for the pharma, cosmetics and food industries. In addition, HRB offers their molecular breeding and target identification expertise as an end-to-end service solution for accelerating breeding efforts to plant breeders, seed companies and natural ingredient producers of all sizes. Combined, these efforts ultimately contribute to solving global food challenges such as the need for improved nutritional value or reduced pesticide use.

Founded in 2015, HRB combines the business acumen and market knowledge of Rudi Ariaans with the scientific expertise in genetics and consulting experience of Dr. Ferdinand Los. HRB remains one of the few independent players in the agricultural industry – no shares are owned by seed companies – and targets the multi billion-euro agtech market.

“The combination of the proprietary SuRE and CRISPR technology platforms offers a powerful and unique way to improve crop yields and enable more sustainable food production. Both technologies are easy to integrate into existing breeding programs and the targeted approach significantly reduces the time, and therefore costs, needed to develop innovative traits” says Rudi Ariaans, CEO and co-founder of HRB.

Ferdinand Los, CSO and HRB co-founder adds, “SuRE is unique in that it can provide gene regulatory sites in a genome-wide fashion, allowing us to modify gene expression levels via CRISPR—turning the “volume button” of the genes, rather than shutting them off completely. This is highly desirable, as completely removing genes, the more common way CRISPR is used, can often be damaging to the plant. Also, this approach can allow us to increase gene activity without resorting to transgenic methods”.

“We are excited to bring on board such an experienced investor group that has a proven track record of successfully scaling up technology companies” says Ariaans. HRB will use the investment to significantly accelerate growth, by growing the team and expanding R&D activities. The agricultural industry is changing rapidly; being able to offer both a target identification and target transformation service will ensure a leading position for HRB in the fast moving CRISPR environment. “With this new investment, we will create a world-class agtech innovation factory”.

In2Care Receives €3.5 Million From Bill Gates Foundation To Test New Malaria-prevention Method

Wageningen-based startup In2Care is part of a consortium that has received a total grant of 9,3 million euro from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop a new ‘Eave Tubes’ malaria-prevention method, developed in collaboration with researchers in Africa. In2Care receives 3.5 million euro for their part. 

In2Care, that works on the project together with partners in the US, UK and Africa, receives this five-year grant to investigate a new method for preventing the transmission of malaria. The method involves limiting mosquito access to houses by screening windows and installing “eave tubes” that contain a unique type of insecticide-laced netting developed by In2Care that kills the insects as they attempt to enter.

“In 2015 an estimated 438 thousand mostly African children and pregnant women died of malaria,” said In2Care’s Director Bart Knols. “Although we have achieved tremendous progress over the last fifteen years and have saved countless lives by using insecticide-treated bednets and indoor spraying with insecticides, resistance to insecticides in mosquitoes is spreading rapidly which may undermine these fragile gains. Eave tubes combine two approaches: First the house is rendered mosquito-proof and second the tubes represent a novel approach to target mosquitoes as they try to enter the house in search of a blood meal .The beauty of it all is that house occupants don’t need to do anything, it is passive technology.”

Mosquitoes find their way to humans by responding to odors leaving the house. They enter the house through the ‘eave’, the gap between the roof and walls. According to Matthew Thomas, who will head the study at Penn State, African malaria mosquitoes have a strong preference for entering houses at night through eaves — the gaps between the roofs and the walls of houses. The team’s novel eave tube approach involves blocking the eaves and inserting tubes that act like chimneys to funnel human odors to the exterior of the home. Attracted to the human odors, mosquitoes enter the tubes and encounter netting that has been treated with an electrostatic coating that binds insecticidal particles to it. The netting can hold several kinds of powdered insecticides, including biological agents, and has been shown to break resistance with currently recommended insecticides.

“Since insecticide is only used on small pieces of netting in the tubes, the reduction compared to spraying walls of entire houses is massive, making eave tubes highly cost competitive, especially now that more expensive insecticides are needed due to resistance against the cheaper ones” said Knols. “Furthermore, retreatment is easy, as it requires simple replacement of small pieces of netting within the tubes.”

With a previous €5.2 million grant from the EU, the collaborative team of researchers has already conducted a proof-of-concept intervention in which they installed eave tubes in more than 1,800 houses in the Kilombero valley in southern Tanzania. The team found that the eave tubes reduced indoor mosquito densities by up to 90 percent.

The new project funded by the Gates Foundation expands on the previous intervention by installing eave tubes in approximately 6,000 homes in villages in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania. The researchers will examine householders in these villages and compare them with equivalent control villages that have not been supplied with eave tubes to determine the effect of the intervention on malaria incidence. The team also will test the mosquitoes caught in the villages for insecticide resistance. Finally, the researchers will conduct socio-economic analyses to determine homeowner acceptance and create strategies for implementation across different regions and market sectors.

“We know that eave tubes can perfectly kill mosquitoes when they contact electrostatic netting; even the ones resistant to insecticides. But that’s not enough to convince policy makers that this approach can be added to the arsenal we have at present. Quite rightly so, before a new approach can be adopted we need to clearly measure the overall impact on disease, not just mosquitoes. That’s what we aim to do in this unique project,” Knols said. “If we are to eradicate malaria from the face of the planet over the next decades it will be essential to move new strategies forward, and especially those that can help to break the vicious circle of insecticide resistance. This is what eave tubes offer.”

 

Source: wur.nl