The company was set up in early 2010 by John Landell Mills and Rod Scott to develop
and commercialise superior varieties of potatoes bred using advanced GM technology.
This initiative had, and still has, two main drivers.
First, the acute global need for new potato varieties with much improved disease
and pest resistance combined with other traits of potentially great value to potato
growers, processors and consumers.
Second, the decision of the large companies involved with crop biotech not to include
potatoes in their R&D programs.
Jeff Hooper has recently joined our team as Chairman. Whilst CEO of Twyford Plant
Laboratories in the 1980-90s Jeff established a molecular genetics lab on the Cambridge
Science Park to research potato modification as part of a contract with a leading
potato processor. Twyford also worked on mini tubers. Twyford was funded by venture
capital, and Jeff was involved in raising over $25m prior to the sale of the company
to Kirin Brewery and British American Tobacco. Prior to that Jeff was MD of a Nickerson
seed business with responsibility for potato trials. Nickersons were agents for the
leading Dutch seed potato firm ZPC at the time. In recent years Jeff has managed
the largest UK cut flower producer and a number of other successful ventures.
John Landell Mills started a number of highly successful agriculture and natural
resources-related ventures (see www.landell-mills.com and www.lmc.co.uk for further
information). He played a role in establishing the Scottish salmon farming industry
and in the transformation of the global date palm industry by pioneering the development
of date palm micropropagation. JLM also has extensive journalistic experience having
worked for Farmers Weekly, written a column on agriculture for the Financial Times
and been a regular contributor to the Sunday Times and the Economist. He also has
useful political links as a former senior member of the Liberal Party HQ staff and
in various roles with the Liberal Democrats since. He also has long-standing links
with policy makers in Brussels and in Russia (where his company managed an 800 ha
potato farm and has been involved in many other projects).
Rod Scott was recently appointed head of the highly-rated Department of Biology
and Biochemistry at Bath University where he has been a professor for several years.
Rod has a PhD in plant genetic engineering and has worked extensively with the plant
biotechnology industry, including with Nickerson Seeds on artificial male sterility
systems and Syngenta on wheat improvement. He developed novel IP that increases seed
yield in crop species; two systems have been licensed to two major international
biotechnology companies. He has led the recent creation of the Crop Innovations
not-for-profit venture which aims to upgrade a number of under-utilised seed-bearing
crops. He also takes part in public engagement with science by chairing the Bath
Science Café and other activities.
Our chief adviser on potato agronomy is Dr Peter Harkett who was previously Chief
Agronomist for McCains. He is widely known and respected in the potato industry for
his experience and knowledge of potato production in both the UK and abroad.