Sustainability
Think Local Act Global

R&D and innovation

Agricultural land accounts for around half of the world’s habitable land, and agricultural-related measures have a huge impact on the environment and climate. Forty-five countries, including the U.S., have pledged to reform agricultural and food systems through policy reforms, research, and innovation to reduce carbon emissions, protect nature, and safeguard food security. The development and survival of the agrochemical industry need to cater to the global consensus on carbon reduction. Reducing the amount of fertilizers used, increasing the amount of carbon sequestrated, and developing smart agriculture and other carbon-reducing products have become the trend in the future.

R&D Center

The Company has built a global R&D center with complete facilities in the Chung Hsing Park in the Central Taiwan Science Park, the structure of which is divided into the Foundation Labs, the Solution Labs, and the GLP Lab. We performed chemical testing and analysis of new active ingredients or new combinations of active ingredients, and new dosage forms predicted through the genome technology firstly in the early development stage, confirmed the content of active ingredients and the stability of the formulations and then verified the product efficacy at the levels of gene expression, biochemical metabolism, physiological state, cell development, and growth phenotype; and provided feedback on and improved formulations based on the experimental results.

 

The three functional facilities of the three sectors are connected seamlessly and can collect test data and feedback for corrections at the same time and put forth upgrade solutions and solutions based on the efficacy and phytotoxicity assessments of mainstream products, while integrating multi-faceted data, improving candidate products timely, and shortening the commercialization time (as shown in the table below).

Innovative core key technologies

Building on modern biotechnology, the Company precisely designs the functions of new products, confirms the efficacy through a function verification platform, and builds a field test platform in the mainstream market around the world to obtain approvals for products, accelerate the launch and rapidly develop agricultural biotech and new pharmaceutical products.

Core technology 1: Combined with next-generation sequencing genomics technology for high-efficient development of new pharmaceuticals active ingredients.

Core technology 2: The complete and efficient full-featured verification platform that shortens the R&D cycle for product commercialization.

The Foundation Labs researches and identifies major agricultural problems in-depth in a systematic manner, analyzes the biological mechanism of each problem, and provides research data on the biological mechanism of candidate formulations from gene expression to growth phenotype, while providing feedback and improving formulations based on experimental results. The Solution Labs confirms the best technology and product development roadmap, carries out field efficacy test, and is responsible for registration and standardization of production processes.

 

The Company’s systematic R&D platform rapidly collects data and feedback simultaneously from multiple sources to screen a large number of candidate formulations in a short time to make improvements and shorten the time for commercialization.

Core technology 3: Perfect on-site field test platform for international target market, accelerate the acquisition of commodity registration certificate and market promotion

Before registration of a developed formulation and launch to the market, field trials of efficacy, registration, and markets should be conducted. In addition to the complete safety information required for product registration, field trials provide product application guidelines and complete efficacy results to improve product competitiveness as an important basis for product pricing.

The Company has gone deep into the planting system in each market, established a complete field trial platform, and systematically obtained the information below to obtain approvals quickly and facilitate marketing:

A. Efficacy information: Efficacy, dosage, use period, comparison of efficacy with competing products of global major brands, product competitiveness and product pricing.
B. Registration information: product registration, food safety regulations, and environmental and ecological safety.
C. Market information: complete security information required for agricultural insurance and distributor product liability insurance.

 

With biological function level as the technological level, we have integrated the three core technologies into a product development platform. First, we adopt the next-generation sequencing genome technology to explore the functions of active ingredients and compound products and predict their regulatory potential. Then, we adopt a systematic R&D platform to verify the multi-faceted efficacy of the active ingredients or finished compound products, as a proof of the efficacy with higher market values. Finally, we accelerate the approval registration and market promotion for products through a complete target market field test platform. Then, we engage in product development at the biological function level and establish a chemical library of a large number of synthetic molecules for efficacy screening. Compared with the development of traditional agrochemical products, the precision and efficacy targets can be achieved quickly, thus shortening the R&D time with about 4-6.5 years, which is about half of the time needed to develop traditional agrochemical products (Phillips McDougall, 2018).

R&D team

We have a vertically integrated independent operating model from R&D to manufacturing, have built well-equipped laboratories with multiple aspects linked and adopt an innovative and integrated R&D platform to study important issues in agricultural biotechnology. Our R&D personnel can simulate the gene expression data during various plant growth processes amid adversity and adopt the knowledge of modern plant genomics and proteomics and metabolomics to systematically explore the core issues affecting yield, quality, safety, and resistance in agricultural production. The research and development process of CH Biotech’s agrochemical products is as follows:

Composition of the R&D team

We established a global R&D center in the Chung Hsing Park in Nantou and recruit excellent talents with doctorate or master’s degrees from major universities in Taiwan and overseas universities in the fields of biology, agronomy, and chemistry. The number of our R&D talents has increased to 55. Those with doctorate and master’s degrees accounted for 51% and 49%, respectively. The number of our R&D talents account for 50% of the total number of the parent company’s employees.

Laboratory education and training

The authenticity, accuracy, and traceability of the data produced by CH Biotech R&D during the technology R&D process are crucial, as the data is an important basis for product development but also an important guarantee for data quality. To ensure the stability, authenticity, and reproducibility of the data, R&D personnel need to undergo solid training before engaging in experiments.

 

We have adopted GLP and established a GLP Lab, which is regulated and evaluated according to the Laboratory Personnel Training and Ability Assessment Management Procedures. After training, researchers are required to pass an internal ability and qualification assessment. After passing the assessment, they can perform specific tests or operate instruments. For each ability and qualification item they passed, they need to receive refresher retraining and assessment at least once a year. All researchers’ training is recorded in writing for examination. The quality assurance personnel or the dedicated personnel perform practical, written, or oral tests from time to time; if the researchers fail to pass it (80 points or higher), they need to receive refresher training to improve their abilities.

 

In addition to new employee and regular internal training, we arrange R&D personnel to participate in external education and training from time to time to enhance our R&D capabilities. Through continuous education and training, all researchers are familiarized with experimental skills, produce real data according to the SOP of experiments, and provide internationally recognized experimental data in alignment with the global standards.

Industry-academia collaboration

As an agricultural biotech pharmaceutical product development company on the basis of R&D, CH Biotech aims to build a strong R&D team and attract a wide range of partners to accelerate the product R&D, enhance basic research on agricultural issues, or launch new products to the international market through technological collaboration. Thus, we also pay special attention to exchanges and collaboration with Taiwan’s agricultural biotech industry, government and academe.


We sponsor professors’ research to save the time for the academia to apply for government subsidies to bring vitality to the field of plant science research in Taiwan. Through the model of “CH Biotech raises questions and the academia solves them,” we make good use of Taiwan’s R&D capabilities to develop important agricultural technologies. We also tap into the highly systematic teamwork to innovate product designs and integrate relevant new technologies (including the research on plant hormones related to the regulation of plant growth and development, molecular biotechnology and global new technology research and analysis) and commercialize academic research results. The industry-academe collaboration model also provides more employment opportunities to agricultural biotech students to motivate them to stay in Taiwan.

 

In order to effectively enhance the competitiveness of the agricultural biotechnology industry, the Company proactively invests in R&D and innovation. The Company also cooperates with a number of domestic colleges and professional institutions and draws up diverse industry-academia cooperation plans, expecting to integrate theory and practice. Academic or R&D institutions that cooperate with the Company include the Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Cheng Kung University, National Chung Hsing University, National Chi Nan University, Providence University, National Formosa University, Taiwan Textile Research Institute, Taiwan Agriculture Research Institute Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan. In addition, the Company has offered higher education scholarships to students of the following programs: Doctoral Program of Industry-Academy Cooperation of the Institute of Plant Biology, National Taiwan University, the PhD Program in Bioindustrial Technology of College of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University, and the Doctoral Program of Smart Precision Agriculture Industry-Academy Cooperation of the College of Science and Technology, National Chi Nan University. Doctorate Program for Agricultural Biotechnology, Industry-academe R&D Program, College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, National Cheng Kung University. Since 2018, the Company has also started cooperation with interns from National Taiwan University, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, National Chung Hsing University, National Tsing Hua University, China Medical University, National Cheng Kung University and National University of Tainan, while providing scholarships to cultivate potential talents, thereby bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Continuous investment in R&D

Since establishment, CH Biotech has engaged the R&D of modern crop science and technologies greatly to improve the R&D momentum. The R&D Expenses in the last 5 years are as following:

Approval registration

The country to which our products are mainly sold is the U.S.; as the U.S has strict and well-established safety regulations for agrochemical products, we need to provide a large amount of high-tech data to prove the impact of the products developed on the environment, consider if the use of such products in the field will affect non-target organisms significantly. With the approval of the U.S. EPA and an agrochemical product registration certificate, we are able to enter the mainstream market in the U.S. Therefore, the agrochemical product registration approved by the U.S. EPA is basically recognized and accepted by the agrochemical management agencies of various countries around the world, allowing us to accelerate the registration and launch of products in other countries.

Status of the technical grade agro-pesticide registration certificates obtained

The Company mainly exports to the North American market and has obtained 11 technical-grade active ingredient registration certificates in the U.S. so far, ranking second in the U.S. (see the table below). This has enabled us to improve the development of formulation products without being constrained by other technical-grade competitors. At present, there are three manufacturers in the U.S. market that have obtained more technical grade agro-pesticide of plant growth regulators registrations than their peers. They are Fine Agrochemicals acquired by De Sangosse, Nufarm based in Australia, and CH Biotech R&D. CH Biotech has exclusively registered various unique technical grade agro-pesticides, including choline chloride, gamma-aminobutyric acid, triacontanol and chitin, and thus keeps the distance from competitors and maintains the uniqueness of the products, so that CH Biotech possesses the unique competitiveness in the market and leading share in the niche market, to maintain high margins.

Technical-grade registration by plant growth regulator manufacturers in the U.S. market

Crises and challenges

Global food demand continues to rise, and new products are needed to create breakthroughs for food productivity when arable land per capita is on the decline.

As per a report by the United Nations in 2019, the global population is expected to grow from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 11 billion by the end of this century. With the increasing global population and demand for food, it is estimated that every hectare of arable land will need to produce five metric tons of cereal crops by 2050 to meet the needs for food. However, global land availability per capita fell from 0.22 hectares in 2005 to 0.19 hectares in 2016. Food productivity need to increase by 52% based on the 2005–2007 benchmark (Rattan Lal, 2016). It shows that the demand for agrochemical products to improve food growth and yield will increase. To continuously increase the yield per unit area of crops, it needs investment in agricultural biotech pharmaceuticals. As the requirements for industrial innovation capabilities become stricter and the entry threshold is becoming higher, the competition in the agricultural market basically lies in technological innovation capabilities.

With global consensus on low carbon, shortages of global resources and energy, sustainable low-carbon agriculture has become a common issue.

As per the 2020 Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Global Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions Survey Report, the emissions from agriculture account for 17% of the total emissions of all industries in the world, among which fertilizer production and consumption are the major sources of carbon emissions. As the UN launched the goals of reducing the consumption of agrochemical products in 2012 and important climate summits have concluded treaties to reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming, traditional chemical fertilizers are severely impacted.

 

Furthermore, production based on fertilizers relies on a large quantity of natural minerals and energy consumption. With the constraints of raw materials and energy, the costs of using fertilizers for production have gradually risen, which has put a pressure on farmers. The fertilizer industry has long developed technologies and products to reduce the overall consumption of fertilizers and continues to improve fertilizer use efficiency, to reduce energy consumption when fertilizers are used and alleviate environmental pollution.

 

Climate change impacts crop production severely and poses a daunting challenge to product innovation.

Climate change results in declining crop yield and quality and leads to increasing agricultural losses. As per the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2019, the global average yields of corn, wheat, and soybeans from 1981 to 2010 dropped by 4.1%, 1.8%, and 4.5% compared with the pre-industrial level under the influence of climate change; the global food production capacity was predicted to decrease by 5% to 30% by 2050 due to climate change.

 

Climate change leads to crop migration or interferes with the crop planting timeline, such as sowing, puberty and harvest (Schwartz, 2016). Due to multiple changes in temperature and rainfall, the efficacy of traditional agrochemical products is weakened or becomes unstable, which not only does not help to alleviate the climate dilemma faced by growers but may cause agricultural losses due to chemical damage. Therefore, in the face of climate change, traditional agrochemical products need to be reformed technologically and it is imperative to design agrochemical products tailored for crops to cope with the future environment.

 

Climate change has led to more frequent extreme weather events (heat waves, cold snaps, droughts, or floods), such as heat waves in the Americas, cold damage in Brazil, and torrential rains in Western Europe, with a severe impact on global crop yields. This has further led to shortages of food and hikes in food prices. Adverse climate effect can also lead to unpredictable outbreaks of pest damage, and agricultural losses will be difficult to estimate. Therefore, the world is in urgent need for agricultural biotech pharmaceutical products that can protect crop growth from adverse climate effect, improve the stability of other pesticides, and enhance crop immunity.

Innovation of agrochemical products

The highly developed world economy today has changed the natural and ecological environment. In addition to the pursuit of efficient production and stability and safety, the relations between the relevant agricultural production systems and natural resources, living things, and the environment is also part of the sustainable development of agriculture. Therefore, different from the application of fertilizers on a large scale in the past, it has become a trend in the future to replace traditional pesticides with natural and low-carbon agricultural biotech products with low-toxicity.

 

CH Biotech, building on the solid foundation for technological capabilities, is committed to R&D of PGRs and highly efficient fertilizers.

Reduction of carbon emissions from crop production

As per the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028 published by the OECD and the FAO in 2019, the increasing global population will consume more agricultural products, while agricultural production will become increasingly intensive. Moreover, future agrochemical products should be able to respond to the issues of food safety and environmental protection, and many international agricultural companies have devised carbon reduction strategies accordingly. With that said, the corresponding products developed by the Company are as follows:

Agricultural biotech pharmaceuticals for protecting food production from climate change

The Company actively develops technologies to help crops adapt to high and low temperatures to maintain crop yields at low or high temperatures or under drought stress; and those for strengthening the immune system of crops, allowing them to be more resistant to biotic and abiotic adversity, including the defense against changes in external environmental conditions, pest damage and chemical damage.

Reduce consumption of fertilizers for crop cultivation.

Fertilizers provide necessary nutrients to crops and are indispensable to support food production for all human beings. However, the utilization rates of the mainstream fertilizer forms are low (50-70% for nitrogen, 15% for phosphorus, and 50- 60% for potassium; Finck, 1992). It is a long-standing dilemma for fertilizer products. Fertilizers that are not absorbed and utilized by crops will go into the soil and water bodies, causing water pollution and soil salinization and further reducing the arable land. However, with the increasing food demand due to the growing population, the gradually decreasing arable land has forced farmers to increase agricultural yield by increasing the amount of fertilization. The environmental degradation has attracted the attention of the government, industry, and people.

 

Moreover, fertilizer production relies on the consumption of a large amount of natural minerals and energy. As per the 2020 Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Global Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions Survey Report, the emissions from agriculture account for 17% of the total emissions of all industries in the world, among which fertilizer production and consumption are the major sources of carbon emissions. As the UN launched the goals of reducing the consumption of agrochemical products in 2012, countries around the world have followed suit, and policy restrictions have significantly affected traditional chemical fertilizers. The UN COP has set conventions on reduction of carbon emissions and combating of global warming, increasing the pressure on the fertilizer industry to innovate and develop rapidly. The fertilizer industry has long developed technologies and products to reduce the consumption of fertilizers and continued to increase the fertilizer use efficiency, reduce the energy consumption of using fertilizers, and alleviate environmental pollution.


Therefore, we have improved the absorption and the fertilizer use efficiency of crops over the course of growth and development through two designs, to assist relevant agriculture industries with energy conservation and carbon reduction:

Design 1: Specialized fertilizers (Nutrisync series)

Nutrisync is a highly efficient specialized fertilizer with exclusive technology. Different from basic fertilizers on the market, specialized fertilizers are plant nutrition products tailored for specific crops in a specific period and a specific farming environment. The important nutrients needed are delivered in a timely and appropriate amount depending on the growth stage, so the absorption and use efficiency are high, thereby achieving the goal of low input and high yield. For example, Nutrisync M and Nutrisync D are micro-element functional fertilizers particularly designed by CH Biotech for monocot and dicot crops. Nutrisync M is mixed with boron, manganese, and zinc to meet monocot crops’ specific nutritional needs, while Nutrisync D is additionally mixed with boron and molybdenum to meet dicot crops’ specific nutritional needs.

 

Nutrisync is additionally added with chelating agent inositol to increase the mobility of trace elements, improve the absorption efficiency of trace elements by plants, and accelerate the movement of trace elements to the targeted tissues, thereby delivering the nutrients needed by each part of a plant quickly and precisely.

Design 2: Foliar nitrogen assimilation (FNA)

We have developed FNA formulations, which are added with new active ingredients to go with PGRs, to promote the absorption and assimilation of inorganic nutrients to form organic compounds, such as proteins, phospholipids, or nucleic acids, through (1) enhanced root development to enhance crops’ fertilizer absorption efficiency, (2) enhanced efficiency of the electron transport chain during crop photosynthesis to increase the accumulation of carbohydrates, and (3) enhanced activity and assimilation of translocator proteins of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

 

We have striven to improve the fertilizer use efficiency through innovative fertilizer use technologies. We simulated and compared carbon emissions per metric ton of corn after FNA was delivered through a low-nitrogen farming system on the LCA analysis platform with the laboratory data on efficacy. The preliminary results showed that the use of FNA was likely to reduce carbon emissions by around 14% compared with conventional farming; thus, it can not only significantly reduce the fertilizer consumption required for crop production but help alleviate environmental pollution.