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Company Profile…i2LResearch – Contract Research Group

| September 3, 2018

Company background

i2LResearch is one of the leading product testing and development centres for the agrochemicals and household pesticides industry. Founded in 1989, the company has expanded and diversified from its roots to become a successful multi-site and multi-national player in the Contract Research sector. Since spin-out from Cardiff University in 2000, staff numbers have risen from 4 people based in South Wales, UK, to 50 employees world-wide.

Bed bug feeding

With five offices in the UK (Cardiff and Newcastle), Spain (Girona), the Czech Republic (České Budějovice), and the USA (Baltimore), and with a collaborative network covering all EU zones, the company offers efficacy testing in biocides, household and professional products, repellents, animal health products, agrochemicals, and biopesticides, as well as ecotoxicology studies and specialised services. The company operates to GEP and GLP (Good Experimental Practice and Good Laboratory Practice).

Growth in recent years has been rapid. We attribute this growth to delivering good science to tight deadlines in a growing market, and, importantly, to getting out there and talking to people. Helena Heaven, our Sales Director, will be familiar to many of you from her tireless travelling and sometimes gruelling meetings schedules. It should be mentioned also that that the Welsh Government has always helped us tremendously with our export efforts.

Looking at the structure of the company more closely, we might divide our activities into biocides, crop, ecotoxicology, and other as shown below.

Biocide and product testing

In biocides and household/professional product testing, the company has a lot of expertise in laboratory, simulated use, and field trials on a wide range of species including roaches, bed bugs, mosquitoes, head lice, and stored product pests. We have extensive controlled environment facilities across four countries and two continents, with access to indoor and outdoor sites including private dwellings and commercial properties, for field trials.

In the area of repellent testing, the company carries out  in vitro   and ‘arm in the cage’ testing against mosquitoes and ticks, dosimetry trials, and indoor and outdoor spatial repellency trials. We also conduct field trials on skin and spatial repellents, and are also familiar with the Human Studies Review Board (HSRB) protocol design and submission process for mosquito and tick repellents for EPA registration.

The main centres for our laboratory biocide work are Cardiff (UK) and Baltimore (USA), ably managed by Richard Kinsey and Kristine Styer, respectively.

An important part of our business is the testing of pest control devices. We have controlled temperature white rooms designed for electric fly killer testing, and we also test pheromone traps for stored product and public health insect control, light traps and CO2   traps.

We are also active in animal health product testing, including   in vitro   testing for fleas and ticks, oral tick tests, repellent teat dip product testing, anthelmintic product   in vitro   testing (e.g. roundworms and pinworms), and laboratory and field testing on insect growth regulators. In the field we have regular access to animal houses (cattle, pig and poultry) and we also frequently conduct equine insect repellent testing.

In addition we carry out fungicide and algicide testing, with testing on mushroom fungal diseases in commercial growing settings (Trichoderma   and other species) and green algae trials on terracotta pots, patios, and paving slabs.

Strong business growth

Plant growth chambers

The company’s agrochemicals, turf and biopesticides business headed by Dr Catherine Whaley is showing strong growth and has been on an upward trend for a few years now. Services offered include efficacy testing on plant protection products, in horticulture and agriculture, with GEP field trials offered throughout Europe, covering all European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) climatic zones for registration. We carry out laboratory, glasshouse, and polytunnel trials on vegetable and ornamental plants against over seventy species including whitefly, thrips, aphids, stink bugs, soy bean loopers, and wireworms.

We offer full agricultural field trials on cereals, brassicas, vine, and orchards (apples and citrus). We also have expertise in seed treatment and foliar application trials, as well as nematicide field trials in vegetable crops.

Our herbicide testing business has grown significantly in recent years. We offer efficacy and selectivity testing in glasshouse screening, simulated field, small plot and field studies, covering a range of crop including oil seed rape, cereals, potatoes, vegetables, and orchards. We run trials on a variety of surfaces including grass ley, shingle, railway ballast, and high value turf and lawn.

Fungicide trials are offered on cereals, vegetables, and ornamentals, in glasshouses, polytunnels, simulated field and field situations. Target species include blackspot, rust, mildew, blight, dollar spot, and red thread.

The area of fertilizer, biostimulant, plant nutrition, and adjuvant testing is of increasing importance and is a growth area for us. Biopesticides appear to be coming of age; we offer testing on biological control products, beneficial insects, and entomopathogenic and molluscicidal nematodes.

Dr Barry Brogan, Head of Newcastle office, observes that ‘the type of crop trial being approved seems to be changing towards larger, multi country studies. This might reflect a change in the nature of study types being outsourced by sponsors, or could simply be that as i2LResearch has grown, we are increasingly seen as being capable of handling larger packages of work’.

Ant residual study

i2LResearch must be considered the principal molluscicide testing organisation in Europe. We have expertise in product development and efficacy evaluation of molluscicidal and behaviour modifying compounds, with controlled laboratory facilities for product development and screening. We have over six hundred purpose built arenas for caged arena/barrier studies, and field capacity and expertise to conduct field studies on crops against most pest species including:  Deroceras reticulatumArion distinctus/hortensisArion vulgaris, Helix aspersa and Pomacea insularum.

Roger Latorre, Head of Spanish office, sees increased opportunities for the company to expand in the Mediterranean region, increasing its capability to work in olive, apple and citrus groves for example.

Ecotoxicology centre in Czech Republic

Our ecotoxicology facility is centred in České Budějovice in the Czech Republic. Our highly skilled GLP team carries out Tier I acute toxicity tests on the two indicator species, Aphidius rhopalosiphi and Typhlodromus pyri, and Tier II testing, and a full range of indicator species including: Episyrphus balteatus, Chrysoperla carnea, Coccinella septempunctata, Orius laevigatus,  Aleochara bilineata and Trichogramma cacoacicae.

Head of Ecotoxicology and Manager of the Czech Office, Dr Pavel Foltan, states ‘the ecotoxicology business is growing fast, driven by regulatory requirements, and our increasing experience and capacity in this area’.

In addition, we offer studies on soil and dung organisms including: earthworms, Collembola, predatory soil mites, enchytraeid worms, dung flies, full 1 year field earthworm and non-target macro-organism field trials, honey bee and bumble bee testing.

In aquatic ecotoxicology, we carry out studies on pulmonate snails, prosobranch snails, chironomids, and aquatic plants.

Drone footage of OSR trial

We also offer non target plant phytotoxicity testing, including seedling emergence and vegetative vigour studies on a large range of target species. Assessments taken include seedling emergence, biomass measurements, phytotoxicity and mortality.

In addition, the company has recently started to offer residue and succeeding crop trials on a number of crops including, but not restricted to: winter and spring OSR, winter and spring cereals, maize, potatoes, vineyards, and fruit orchards. Analysis of samples is via a collaborating laboratory.

No longer a niche laboratory

It can be seen from the above that i2LResearch has developed from a niche laboratory, to become a much more diverse and complex organisation. Add in other services such as high throughput screening for biodiscovery type projects, packaging penetration studies, resistance studies, efficacy filming for marketing purposes, and regulatory services via third party collaborators, and i2LResearch is an appropriate partner for the needs of large and small agrochemical and household pesticide groups.

New large testing unit taking shape in Cardiff, UK

This growth from a small company to a significant multi-national player is not unique to i2LResearch. We see several equally excellent groups who have used growth in the testing market to make the same journey. In our view that expansion is likely to continue for now, given increasing regulatory needs, and also given that in percentage terms outsourcing still appears to be considerably lower in our industry than in, say, the pharmaceuticals industry. There are threats in what currently seems to be a fragmenting world order, but we assume that testing requirements will remain robust even in a world of trade disputes, tariffs and Brexit.

The considerable consolidation seen in the agrochemicals industry recently is likely to be reflected in the contract research industry. We imagine that large consolidated sponsors will prefer to deal with all-capacity contract research groups. i2LResearch has, accordingly, increased its offering in recent years, and built informal collaborative networks across the EU and elsewhere. At the same time, given sponsor choice, we need to constantly improve our performance. To that end, we are expanding our capacity in Cardiff and modernising our plant.

The Czech office has increased its capacity with a new plant and the US office relocated to a new, purpose built laboratory in late 2017.

Continual improvement in an expanding market will be the secret to our continued success.

Finally, we will be at the following meetings:

  • ABIM 2018, 22-24th October, Basel, Switzerland
  • NPMA Pestworld 2018, 24-26th October, Orlando, FL, USA
  • ESA 2018, 11-14th November, Vancouver, Canada
  • Parasitec 2018, 16th November, Paris, France

More information from Dr Peter McEwen ( www.i2LResearch,com

Published in International Pest Control – July/August 2018

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Category: Company news, Company Profile

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