March 5, 2021
EDISON AGROSCIENCES INITIATES $1.0 MILLION DARPA PHASE II RESEARCH CONTRACT
St. Louis, MO, March 5, 2021 – Edison Agrosciences, Inc., a privately-held agricultural biotech company focused on new sources of natural rubber, announced today they have initiated a $1.0 million Phase II research contract sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research contract will fund further development of Edison’s sunflower rubber technology for the domestic production of natural rubber in sunflower plants.
Edison is collaborating on this contract with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis to increase the level of rubber naturally produced in the leaves of the sunflower plant. Sunflower leaves contain 1 – 2% of their weight in natural rubber and increasing that amount by a few percentage points would make sunflower an economical – and geographically diverse – source of natural rubber.
The United States and other industrial countries are dependent on natural rubber imported largely from Southeast Asia. The demand for natural rubber is due to it possessing performance properties that are superior to synthetic rubber for many product applications, including increased tear and tensile strength, as well as superior mechanical performance properties. The geographic concentration of natural rubber supply is not unlike that seen in the early 1900’s before South American Leaf Blight effectively prevented further rubber production in that region.
“We are pleased that DARPA has moved to continue this project to a second phase in its STTR program,” said David Woodburn, CEO of Edison Agrosciences. “Edison Agrosciences has chosen to develop a supply of natural rubber utilizing an already commercialized crop that leverages generations of grower experience. By applying standard agricultural biotechnology, we plan to provide farmers with a profitable new crop while addressing vulnerabilities in the supply of a strategic material.”
About Edison Agrosciences
Edison Agrosciences is an agricultural biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing innovative solutions for the production of plant-based industrial materials, with a primary focus on the development of alternative rubber crops. The company’s efforts have been supported by prior STTR awards (NSF and DARPA), Arch Grants, and institutional investments.
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