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Pest Fighting Pheromones

Agriculture and forestry are key sectors in Atlantic Canada and combatting insect pest threats is essential to grow these economies in a sustainable and responsible way.

Dr. Kirk Hillier joined the Department of Biology at Acadia University in 2007, and developed a research program in the fields of Entomology and Chemical Ecology. He realized that while there was considerable expertise and stakeholders present to fight agricultural and forest insect pests in Atlantic Canada, there was enormous potential to improve interaction and cooperation between these groups. In 2009, Dr. Hillier initiated discussions to create a broad network for developing environmentally-sustainable insect pest management technologies with regional stakeholders. With support from Acadia's Office of Industry & Community Engagement and key stakeholders, the first Pan-Atlantic Network for insect pest management was formed.

With Acadia University as the proponent, and partners contributing $4.42 million in cash and in-kind, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) awarded $2.78 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) in late 2010 for the "Integrated Research, Development and Commercialization of Pheromones and other Semiochemical Products for Management of Insect Pests in Agriculture and Forestry" project.

During the 5-year project, 2 patents were granted, 2 additional patents are pending and the Office of Industry & Community Engagement executed licensing of 9 technologies for commercialization. With the support of Springboard's Innovation Mobilization Marketing Support Fund, optimal paths forward were determined for the commercialization of the technologies. Within the first year of the project, flagship technology was brought to market and sold via Sylvar Technologies.

Project partners included the Canadian Forest Service, the University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Forest Protection Limited and Agrifor Biotechnical Services. Forest Protection Limited and Sylvar Technologies were the commercial partners. As of 2016, Sylvar Technologies is now offering a complete line of pheromone products for insect pest management in forestry and agriculture.

To further develop promising insect mating disruption technology and other pheromone technologies created under the 1st AIF, ACOA awarded a 2nd $2.93 million AIF project to Acadia University starting in 2017, with Acadia and the partners contributing and additional $2.47 million in cash and in-kind.

Find out more about how the region is #springboarding here.

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