Life Scientific, the Dublin-based specialist in off-patent crop protection chemistry, is expanding the range of products available in the UK from this autumn.

The business was created by founder and chief executive Nicola Mitchell in 1995 as a contract R& D firm. But she changed the company direction in 2009, established its own product development capability, and has overseen growth to annual sales of around €30 million, based on product approvals and sales in France (where it is in partnership with the Union InVivo co-operative), Spain and Germany.

Despite the uncertainty over Brexit, Ms Mitchell believes the UK arable industry is open to opportunities for innovation and growth. “We are facing a world where the growing population needs feeding, alongside a decrease in the availability of good arable land and favourable growing conditions – we simply need to be producing more efficiently from what resources we have.

“Alongside this, the agchem market is facing increasingly onerous legislative requirements which are depressing an already stagnant discovery pipeline. However, opportunities have developed through the off-patent market, and today as much as 75% of the market is accounted for by products on which the original active ingredient (AI) patent has expired.”

Ms Mitchell says that an innovative approach based on first generation off-patent science can bring a wider range of valuable off-patent agrochemicals to market more efficiently and faster than ever before. “Life Scientific’s approach is based on a very strong scientific concept around the ability to reverse engineer a product from the original to produce a product accepted as identical by the regulatory authority. So we can offer off patent products to agronomists and growers at least three to four years earlier than any other off-patent company – which is significant, and makes us unique.”

Since its first product launch in the UK in 2011, the company has built a portfolio of 17 products registered for the UK market, backed up by a strong development pipeline that includes new combination products.

“We will be working closely with established distribution networks to develop this business, and we have agreements in place with Hutchinsons and ProCam,” says Ms Mitchell. “This ensures that our product development pipeline is driven by our distributors’ feedback from farmers and growers on the problems they face and the solutions they need most.  It’s important to note that all of our products have full generic registration – there are no parallel imports,” she concludes.

The company has appointed Richard Brereton, previously with Eurofins and Cheminova, as its UK portfolio manager and expects to grow its UK presence throughout the year.