Set up in 1998, Kerry-based Brandon Bioscience has been developing groundbreaking seaweed-extract products to help farming become more sustainable.

The marine biotech company has become well-known for its novel seaweed-based bio-stimulant, derived from the common brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum, which can significantly improve a crop’s nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).

“Brandon Bioscience has had a solid reputation of scientific excellence since it began nearly 24 years ago,” said Oliver Kiernan, who took over as CEO of Brandon Bioscience a year ago.

“We publish a number of peer-reviewed scientific papers, all with the desire to continue to innovate and bring to market new products derived from seaweed. And we invest over 10% of our annual revenue in research and development too.”

Oliver says their bio-stimulant can allow farmers to reduce nitrogen rates by 25% without reducing crop yield. It is extracted from seaweed using the company’s proprietary Plant Signal Induction (PSI) technology.

This PSI technology has allowed the company to identify, isolate and extract bio-compounds to create specific bio-stimulants.

“We like to stay ahead of the curve by continuing to provide specific solutions for growers here in Ireland, and around the world. We are dedicated to increasing yields and increasing quality in produce,” added Oliver.

A welcome support

But it wasn’t just scientific innovations which led the company to where it is today, exporting to over 40 countries around the world and being a leading player in the biotech sector.

According to Oliver, it also received support from Enterprise Ireland.

“They [Enterprise Ireland] have been a huge support to Brandon Bioscience since it was founded,” he said.

“When Brandon started making seaweed extract, the initial customer relationships were created through Enterprise Ireland trips to Brazil and Mexico. When Brandon was in its development stage, Enterprise Ireland was there to support them and provide funding to invest in innovation and research.

“It has been a huge help for a small company like Brandon, and to this day, we still work with them closely. I have had the opportunity to start new business in New Zealand and the Middle East all because of support from Enterprise Ireland.

“They are a key part of why Brandon Bioscience is where we are today and there is no question that they should be the first point of contact for any CEO or manager of an Irish company.”

Award-winning bioscience

In order to recognise the achievement of such a seminal seaweed product, Brandon Bioscience was named the Overall Winner of Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena Awards in 2021.

The awards, in association with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), showcase groundbreaking agri-related products and innovations from Irish agri-companies at the National Ploughing Championships.

Last year’s competition was moved fully online due to the cancellation of the event as a result of the pandemic. But that didn’t stop Brandon Bioscience from celebrating their achievement of Overall Winner, as well as winning the Sustainable Agriculture Award.

“We weren’t expecting it at all, as we had just brought this product to market,” said Oliver.

“It was incredible to win, but the most lasting impact from winning is that it created a greater acceptance of the new technology in the Irish agricultural sector. The fact that Enterprise Ireland sees this as a great innovation has definitely helped the ease of adoption of our product here in Ireland.

“We’re a small team and to get that award from Enterprise Ireland further validates what we do. We are very proud to have won.”

After making such a splash in the sector and the awards, what does Oliver see next for the company?

“We have put a lot of work and effort into creating a commercial product that has a place in agriculture and is a key tool for farmers around the world in terms of producing sustainable crops,” he said.

“And the demand for that will only increase with time with the pressures that farmers are facing, not just from policy, but from climate change.

“We want the business to continue to sustainably grow and innovate and bring to market these types of solution-based bio-stimulant products that are going to provide real changes in the world.

“And with the support and recognition we have received from Enterprise Ireland, it will only be made easier.”

To enter this year’s Innovation Arena Awards, click here.