Incorporated in 1980, Philom Bios develops, manufactures and markets microbial products that improve crop productivity. Founders John Cross, George Khachatourians and John Schaw saw the opportunity to help farmers grow better crops and be more profitable as they faced increasing competition in the agricultural marketplace. An unsuccessful attempt to raise capital in 1982 left the company with considerable debt, but an investment through the Canadian Immigrant Investor Program enabled an active research program to begin. The first fermentation research initiative was at the National Research Council--then called the Division of Biological Sciences--in Ottawa; the research and development program was later expanded and relocated to the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, and to the Agriculture Canada Lethbridge Research Station. Today all corporate, research, manufacturing and marketing activities are centred in Saskatoon. Philom Bios has three main products. JumpStart, the world’s first commercial phosphate inoculant, improves phosphate fertility efficiency in essentially all crops; the active ingredient, penicillium bilaii (a naturally occurring soil fungus), was discovered and patented by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta and licensed for commercialising to the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon in 1986. TagTeam, the world’s first combination phosphate and nitrogen inoculant for pulse crops, won the 1998 Canadian Agricultural Marketing Association Award for the best direct marketing campaign as well as the 1998 ABEX Award for Saskatchewan New Product Award. N-Prove is a nitrogen inoculant for pulse crops. Philom Bios is the only Canadian-owned company supplying high value inoculants to prairie farmers. With a multidisciplinary staff of fifty-five, the company generated annual sales of approximately $10 million in 2003. In 2002, Philom Bios received three SABEX Awards: for Marketing, Growth and Expansion, and Business of the Year.
Tara L. Procyshyn