Australis Capital has entered into a binding terms sheet concerning a joint venture (JV) partnership with 3 Rivers Biotech Inc. ("3 Rivers"), a leading agricultural technology company specialised in commercial scale micropropagation, or plant tissue culture (PTC), for cannabis, hemp and traditional crops.
Under the terms of the agreement, AUSA and 3 Rivers will own 15% and 85% of the JV, respectively. The intent of the JV is to jointly market the 3 Rivers' offerings to growers. Through the JV, 3 Rivers will provide access to its IP and innovative services, products and solutions to AUSA sourced clients. These innovations include all current 3 Rivers offerings as well as access to future products such as PTC-based auto-flowering genetics, which provides a clonal hemp or cannabis plant that will flower independent of day length. This is a potential game changer for outdoor growers. AUSA will contribute sales and marketing capabilities and, through its deep industry network, the ability to generate new opportunities.
With over 1,000 cannabis companies, close to 600,000 acres planted with hemp in North America and Europe alone (representing approximately 1.1 billion plants)1, as well as 1.3 million acres2 (~56.6 billion square feet) of global greenhouse vegetable area, the opportunity for 3 Rivers is very substantial (these numbers leave out greenhouse production of fruit). Through its innovative offerings and in particular its nearly peerless capabilities in cannabis and hemp, the company is exceptionally well positioned to deliver significant growth. The joint venture with AUSA will generate mutual benefits through increased access to marketing channels addressing the various markets both AUSA and 3 Rivers operate in.
Advantages of PTC
PTC entails growing a plant from a small number of cells, rather than from seeds or clones, under strictly controlled sterile conditions in a nutrient medium. PTC has numerous benefits with a significant positive impact on growers' economic returns:
- Increased facility ROI through true Generation Zero plantlets: PTC delivers disease-free starting material, increasing vigor (faster and healthier growth), and improved metabolite (cannabinoid or terpene) expression (greater product quality), increasing the economic return of a facility
- Increased facility efficiencies: when adopting PTC, a cultivator no longer requires a mother room, thereby freeing up licensed space for flowering of commercially valuable crop, increasing a facility's yield
- Risk Mitigation
- Reduced risk of crop failure due to pathogen infestation
- 100% feminized stock avoids risk of rogue male plants, which can destroy an entire harvest
- 100% traceability of inputs, genetics, and biomass reduces compliance risks
- Reduced chance of failing strict pesticide testing with clean, laboratory-produced plants
- Ability to remove pathogens from existing cultivars: producing 'clean' plantlets, enhancing yield and quality of a new crop
- Preservation of Rare or Endangered Species
- Accelerated Propagation Once a Plant is in Tissue Culture
- Improved Logistics
- Shortened Breeding Cycle: accelerated amelioration & genetic variability
- Improved Harvest Timing: reducing labor requirements
The 3 Rivers Offering
3 Rivers Biotech is a plant biotechnology company specializing in commercial scale plant tissue culture for cannabis, hemp and traditional crops to provide premium pathogen-free, pesticide-free, vigorous plants to cultivators and late-stage nurseries across the United States and Internationally. The 3 Rivers products and services include:
- Supply of micropropagation derived genetics, disease free Generation Zero plantlets for cannabis, hemp and other traditional crops (fruits, flowers, ornamentals, vegetables, etc.)
- Ongoing PTC facility management and medium supply services
- Clean-up of existing genetics: delivering a new generation of disease-free plantlets to growers
- Storage of rare and valuable cultivars: genetics are the core property based on which growers generate revenues and establish brands. Genetics are therefore exceptionally valuable and safeguarding these is of great importance. PTC enables the indefinite preservation of these genetics.
- Genetic fingerprinting: ensuring traceability and IP protection
- Pathogen testing: screening for all predatory viruses, fungi, and oomycetes
- Technology Transfer:
- 3 Rivers has developed a production ready, prefabricated PTC lab, capable of producing up to 500,000 plantlets per year, the so-called InstaLab. These InstaLabs, which can be shipped anywhere in the world, greatly accelerate a company's ability to implement PTC at commercial scale
- 3 Rivers also designs and develops PTC production as part of a retrofit of existing facilities, or integrated into the design of new facilities
Further innovations around Integrated Pest Management and the delivery of PTC-stable autoflowering varieties, on which the company has a provisional patent, are under development.
Dr. Duke Fu, Interim CEO of AUSA, stated, "We believe this new partnership will set the standard for science-based micropropagation, and be accretive to AUSA's results. Being able to offer the propagation of cannabis through tissue culture at commercially viable scale is something that many companies and scientists have attempted, but that very few, if any, have managed to accomplish. This makes the 3 Rivers capabilities unique. The JV provides AUSA with access to an expanded portfolio of extremely valuable IP. We also believe this will strengthen our ability to execute on our capital-light strategy. For instance, being able to offer cultivation partners with PTC reduces the need for our cultivars to take up space in their facilities' mother rooms, increasing the yield of any given facility. This JV further cements AUSA's position as an authentic differentiator by offering a unique value add service that is exceptionally difficult to replicate."
Robert Allen, CEO of 3 Rivers, added: "This partnership is transformative to 3 Rivers. By teaming up with AUSA, we believe we will be able to access new sales and marketing channels and rapidly expand our global footprint for PTC of cannabis, hemp and traditional crops. The JV accelerates our ability to bring our commercially focused innovations to market by gaining access to a deep industry network of industry leaders and operators, and help establish 3 Rivers as the leading company in this exciting and economically rewarding field."