EcoPesticides International, a New Mexico-based startup company developing “green” biologic pesticides with proprietary, performance-enhancing encapsulation technology, has announced the completion of its $400,000 Series A Round of funding.

As part of its initial investment round, EcoPesticides secured funding from the New Mexico Startup Factory, an affiliate of the New Mexico Angels; the New Mexico Angels; the University of New Mexico Co-Investment Fund; and a private venture firm based in Nevada. The funds will advance EcoPesticides’ technology, support operations and secure research/development partners. The company has an exclusive global licensing agreement with the University of New Mexico.

According to studies cited by EcoPesticides CEO and President Les Stewart, crop losses to insect pests run in the billions of dollars each year. A recent study estimates insect-related crop losses in Brazil of $17 billion annually. Recent crop losses in Africa totaled $2.5 billion due to desert locusts. EcoPesticides uses naturally occurring bacteria and fungi proven lethal to specifically targeted insect pests. The living biologic material is encapsulated in natural biopolymers as protection from UV rays and environmental conditions, thus extending the potency and performance of the product. EcoPesticides’ products are intended to do no harm to people, animals, beneficial insects such as honeybees, or the environment.

Stewart said closing the Series A round is well timed. “We are receiving tremendous national and global interest in our technology to enhance the performance of biopesticides and herbicides in a sustainable manner. Our trials in West Africa and Montana, which target desert locusts and grasshoppers respectively, are yielding promising results on our encapsulation technology. This funding allows us to accelerate our development efforts and enables us to focus our lab operations in Santa Fe on accelerated commercialization activities.”

The global crop protection market is $50 billion and is largely composed of chemical pesticides. However, growing concern among governments, corporations, and the population at large about harmful effects of toxic chemical pesticides is increasing interest in environmentally friendly, biologic-based alternatives. The microbial pesticide market is currently $2 billion and is estimated to reach $5 billion by 2020.