Greener approach in livestock production
November 15, 2012 — Sherbrooke, Quebec
In a few years, Serge Auray, president of the Groupe Poly-M2, created a microbiology research and development (R&D) laboratory and developed Thymox®, a biodegradable disinfectant for the agriculture and food industries.
Anticipating market's needs
With his strong experience in the agriculture and high technology industries, Mr. Auray realized that the future key challenges lied in traceability and sanitation and planned to create natural products that are both effective and harmless toliving creatures and the environment.
Laboratoire M2's mobile emergency response unit can diagnose and disinfect on site at the farm.
In 2001, Serge Auray contacted the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). "The crop and animal production sector is an area where all sorts of pathogens abound," notes Jean-Marie LeVasseur, Industry Technology Advisor (ITA) for NRC-IRAP. "The creation of a natural disinfectant as effective as chemical solutions that are much more aggressive and used on a larger scale had great potential."
The right game plan
With the help of NRC-IRAP and advice from Dr. Sylvain Quessy, full professor and director of the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at Université de Montréal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Mr. Auray gave further consideration to strategy and technique. Through meetings, he gathered his own microbiology R&D team and set up a laboratory to develop his product internally.
The strategic thinking he did allowed him to refine his business plan and to contact experts from various streams. "NRC-IRAP helped us to structure our methodology and to properly evaluate the steps to take, and they gave us a good strategy for the management of intellectual property," adds Serge Auray.
In 2003, the Groupe Poly-M2 launched its Laboratoire M2 division. "From the start, we adopted a scientific approach in order to understand the environment in which our products and staff would evolve," explains Serge Auray. Over the next two years, Laboratoire M2 gathered a bank of 3,000 agricultural bacterial strains and created an intensive laboratory research program, which led to obtaining a DIN (Drug Identification Number) from Health Canada for Thymox®.
A commercial strategy that combines products and services
David Lalonde-Séguin, microbiologist at the Laboratoire M2, examines a laboratory sample.
Officially launched at Innovet 2008, Thymox® was the first agricultural disinfectant to obtain the EcoLogo certification under CCD-166 in Canada. It is sold in a concentrated format to makers of disinfectant products destined for the agriculture market. Its formula, with an exclusive base of thymol, is now patented in 35 countries and in 7 languages.
Parallel to Thymox®, Laboratoire M2 also established an emergency response unit and expert laboratory services for animal production. The team of researchers created a certified protocol for cleaning and disinfecting alongside Health Canada, as well as three guides for the Fédération des producteurs de porcs du Québec [Quebec Federation of Pork Producers].
Since 2009, Thymox® sales have doubled each year. Thanks to the support of NRC-IRAP and investments from Groupe Poly-M2, the Laboratoire M2 now has eight employees, five of whom are scientists. It continues to design products and services for industries that are subject to very high standards of disinfection and traceability.
"The support of NRC-IRAP has allowed us to fuel our strategic thinking and to unite a solid scientific team" states Serge Auray. Laboratoire M2, now recognized as a leading-edge company in veterinary sanitation and agri-food biosecurity, was awarded the Green Chemistry Innovation Award by the Centre québécois de valorisation des biotechnologies (CQVB).
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