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Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
October 8, 2010

New Operation to Export Biological Products for Agricultural Industry

ICUS, a manufacturer of environmentally-friendly bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers used in agriculture, will soon open a production facility in Donovan’s Business Park in Mount Pearl with the assistance of a $580,000 investment from the Provincial Government.

"This venture will see the creation of a new commercial operation in our province to produce and export leading-edge biological products for the agricultural industry," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Business. "Our government’s investment will help ICUS start up, enter production, and capitalize on the growing demand for these advanced, natural products."

An approximately 10,000 square foot microbial fermentation facility is nearing completion and ICUS plans to be in operation later this fall. It will produce bio-fungicides, designed to protect crops from diseases, and bio-fertilizers, or inoculants, which promote plant health and growth through the use of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi. These products, commonly called microbials, help increase crop yield, control disease, and improve plant health, while reducing chemical requirements, which are important economic and environmental issues in today’s global agricultural industry. Demand for biological products in agriculture is rising, largely because industry preferences continue to move towards reducing dependence on chemicals and increasing the use of environmentally-friendly alternatives.

The Department of Business is providing a $500,000 loan, while the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development is contributing $80,000 towards workforce development initiatives.

"Within the rapidly growing market for environmentally-friendly products there are considerable opportunities for companies such as ICUS," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. "To ensure that the company is best-positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities, it is important that it effectively train employees and make the investments it needs to add the necessary levels of expertise."

The company is concentrating initially on its U.S. customer base, with the potential to expand to other Canadian and international markets. To start, its primary products will be inoculants for soybeans, wheat and canola.

"Microbials are becoming very important as a management tool in large-scale commercial farming," said ICUS President Gordon Genge. "Advances in fermentation techniques and superior quality control procedures means that our biological products can compete head to head with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, especially now that consumers and growers alike are demanding safer food products grown in a sustainable manner. ICUS is positioned to become one of the top companies in this rapidly evolving market."

An initial workforce of approximately six people is expected, growing to a targeted 18 over the next several years. Through the Workplace Skills Enhancement Program, administered by the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, the company will deliver theoretical and practical training programs to increase the knowledge of existing employees.

"Welcoming innovative business opportunities to our communities is vital if we are to continue to grow and diversify our economy," said Topsail MHA Paul Davis. "While contributing to the province’s economy and workforce, this new production facility will also be responding to the agricultural industry’s growing demand for environmentally-friendly products."

The Provincial Government’s contributions are made via the Business Attraction Fund and the Workplace Skills Enhancement Program. The Business Attraction Fund provides customized financial assistance for start up or expansion activities by investors external to the province. Budget 2010: The Right Investments – for Our Children and Our Future allocated a total of $29 million under the fund this fiscal year.

"Our government is taking steps to create the right environment for business investment and expansion," said Minister Wiseman. "We will continue to support opportunities that diversify Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy by attracting new business and building innovative industries."


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Media contacts:

Luke Joyce
Director of Communications
Department of Business
709-729-7628, 725-4165

Scott Barfoot
Director of Communications
Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
709-729-4570, 690-6290

Donna Ivey
Communications Manager
Government Members Office
709-729-0898, 697-1424

Gordon Genge


2010 10 08                                                    11:50 a.m.


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