Start-up that could save the bees – and possibly the planet – raises €300k

25 Sep 2012

Declan Clarke, Inagh Valley Trust; Gerry Mackey, Halo Business Angel Partnership; Dara Scott, managing director, Advance Science and Maedbh Seoighe, Údarás na Gaeltachta

Advance Science, an innovative young Irish company that has developed a natural solution to prevent the worldwide destruction of honeybee colonies and thus support the planet’s ability to produce crops and food, has raised €300,000 in angel funding. The investment will generate 12 new jobs.

Advance Science has developed HiveAlive, a blend of land and marine extracts, which when combined have been shown to fight the Nosema ceranae fungus, one of the key reasons for the decline in the honey bee colonies. The extracts are also known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties to further protect the hives.

HiveAlive is already enabling beekeepers from Ireland, the UK, Spain, Hungary and Denmark to reduce hive losses by up to 80pc and increase honey production by more than 30pc.

It is also boosting pollination revenue due to stronger colonies. Advance Science is targeting further export markets in the next 12 months, including the US and additional European countries.

The investment comes from the Western Business and Innovation Centre and the Halo Business Angel Partnership Programme (HBAP).

Advance Science will use the funding to further develop and trial its product in new export markets and also to create 12 new jobs in the areas of research and development, manufacturing, sales and marketing.

Advance Science is part of a small cluster of research and development companies based in the Inagh Valley Trust in Connemara, Co Galway.

Death of the bees

Honey bee colonies are under threat around the world. On average one in every three hives are dying each year, with up to 90pc losses being experienced by some apiaries. Termed as Colony Collapse Disorder, this is having a significant negative impact on the natural pollination of several crop and plant sources of global food, with a potential knock-on effect for commercial catastrophe.

“The honey bee produces nearly 1.5m tonnes of honey worldwide each year and pollinates up to one-third of the food we eat,” Advance Science’s managing director Dara Scott explained. “As an avid beekeeper myself, I could see first hand that the risks to the honey-bee colonies are increasing and a real solution was needed.

“HiveAlive is already making significant strides to strengthen colonies all around the world and this investment will help us to continue developing and testing our product in new markets. The support of West BIC and Dublin BIC through the Halo Business Angel Partnership was integral to our ability to secure this funding,” Scott said.

Gerry Mackey of WESTBIC said it is encouraging to see science developed in the heart of Connemara contribute a solution to a global problem.

“The business angel investment gives founders of young start-ups or developing companies the opportunity to take the next step and develop their product or service to achieve their full potential.”

His colleague at Dublin BIC John Phelan, national co-ordinator of Halo Business Angel Partnership, cited the export potential of Advance Science’s technology.

“The export potential of Advance Science’s offering is significant and along with WESTBIC we ensured they were at a stage where they were ready to receive investment and also prepared to meet with investors,” Phelan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years