Innovation in Natural Products for Crop Protection


The Argentina-based biochemical start-up INBIOAR was established a decade ago at the National University of Rosario with a vision of creating agrochemical products beyond synthetic chemicals. By using natural compounds in plants that inhibit the growth of unwanted weeds and a systematic method of searching and selecting plant metabolites, the start-up has been able to obtain several biodegradable products for crop protection. INBIOAR has managed to adapt to a fast-paced industry, expand beyond its borders while respecting the importance of understanding the local environment.

Year of Foundation:

November 2010

Addresses the following SDGs:

SDG 2 (no hunger), SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 15 (life on land).

four persons looking at the camera
The INBIOAR Team: Dr. Gustavo M. Sosa, Engr. Lara D. Svendsen, Dr. María Lucía Travaini and Tec. Imanol Milano
a hand holding a plant leaf with a yellow paper clib
A plant sample from INBIOAR's laboratory
a room filled with plants, grow lights, and a laptop
INBIOAR's plant room laboratory

Biotechnology from the walls of university to beyond borders

The story of INBIOAR began in 2010 behind the walls of the National University of Rosario when Dr Gustavo M. Sosa, founder and CEO, decided to rent a lab space to work on his idea. With his experience in biochemistry and entrepreneurship in biological sciences, he was convinced of the potential that laid in botanical extracts for agriculture. His project drew attention to Dr María Lucía Travaini (CSO and Partner), a biotechnologist that was exploring the idea of starting her Ph. D. in biological sciences. After their first meeting, María Lucía realized that her goals aligned with INBIOAR’s search for new applications of technology. Her findings during the thesis have contributed to the evaluation and selection of plant extracts with promising herbicidal activity. For the team, finding the right partners to learn and grow into a rapidly changing market has proven to be an indispensable part of the journey. The project initially developed with the successful match of generous investor partners that followed the potential of the innovation and has only continued with the construction of an advisors and partners’ network. All of these have strongly influenced the way the start-up has approached its plan and goals. Their team was later complemented by researcher Lara D. Svendsen and technician Imanol Milano. Through integral management strategies and tools, the importance of gender balance and education have been priorities for the start-up to uphold. This is reflecting in the quality of the work done by INBIOAR and the way it has complemented their product.

“I like to think of INBIOAR as a painting, where each of the participants has their own brush. Everyone keeps adding drawings, paint, and brushstrokes to the canvas, on and on until one can no longer tell what theirs was originally—there is only the painting with INBIOAR’s essence. This is how I see INBIOAR and the way we approach things.” Sosa stated

A sustainable alternative solution to pursue food security

Many of the products currently available in the market come hand in hand with some toxicity levels creating resistance in the weeds from using one product only and become unusable in the short term. The need to implement the variety of natural products into our agriculture and food supply has never been greater, and this is what INBIOAR has set itself to do. The novelty of this product came in the usage of plants metabolites as herbicides used in applications related to food security and especially in the systematic way the method was approached. This entailed the research of collecting, extracting, and evaluating active components from the selected plants to have a high diversity of active natural chemical compounds to offer. An essential contribution to enhancing food security is that the materials chosen to do the research come from crops outside of the ones used for the food system. The alternative provided by natural ingredients comes as highly biodegradable, reducing the harm to public health and the environment. Sosa believes that, the industry will continue to evolve towards a safer, cleaner, and natural environment in the future and that INBIOAR will continue to climb and propose new natural products.

Next up at INBIOAR

INBIOAR has big plans for their future; they are currently looking to scale up their processes, diversify their product pallet, and grow internationally. With the collaboration of industry partners and universities, the start-up is establishing its brand and processes in Paraguay, Chile, India, Germany, and the US. They are actively open to connect with new partners and investors to help them conquer further markets.