Earlier this year, Innexo was granted an exemption from the Opium Act for research purposes, allowing them to begin their cannabis research. Dominique van Gruisen, general manager and co-founder of the Dutch company Innexo, a contract research organization with a specific focus on cannabis cultivation, explains what exactly the company aims to do:
“We select the research projects we conduct for clients based on the degree of innovation and the positive impact they can have on the cannabis industry as a whole. The ultimate goal is to make safer, more affordable and more reliable cannabis products accessible to patients. practical research into the effects of this technology in cannabis cultivation can help achieve that.”
Need for contract research
Innexo will conduct contract research trials for both technology developers and licensed growers. “On the one hand, we want to focus on companies that develop technologies that help improve, for example, consistency and yield, plant health or energy consumption. We will help the development of these technologies and the visibility of these products with major players in the sector Promoting through controlled trial trials Our technology demonstration trials allow several companies to participate jointly, which not only reduces research costs but also allows them to take B2B customers to a safe place where their technology is tested and validated in a controlled trial cannabis without having to go to a licensed grower, and potential technological synergies can be explored by bringing together several complementary parties.
For those who don’t know: contract research is a very common practice for stakeholders (growers, breeders, manufacturers, suppliers, etc.) in the agricultural and horticultural sector and is the main driver for innovations, product development and registration.
On the other hand, Innexo will offer licensed growers the opportunity to outsource their (risky) research. Van Gruisen explains that this is beneficial for growers who often want to do everything themselves. “What you often see in the cannabis sector is that licensed growers want to develop their own knowledge and do their own research, which is understandable. But doing research is very different from supervising your regular cultivation. You have the right knowledge, facilities and capacity and the ability to adapt quickly. That is why Innexo is a confidential and independent third party to which growers with a worldwide license can outsource their research. It is important to emphasize that all intellectual property developed during a contract research, remains the exclusive property of the client, as with any normal contract inquiry,” he says.
Innexo has both indoor and greenhouse facilities available for their trials. In addition, they have the option of using their sister company Botany’s phytopathology lab for pest and disease R&D. This gives them the opportunity to intentionally infect the plants with pathogenic fungi, bacteria and harmful insects, in a controlled environment, to study the response of the plants. “It’s important for licensed growers to know that there is a place where they can safely outsource this type of research, as it removes major risks to their own crop.”
What are some important aspects in the sector that need improvement and therefore research? First of all, the consistency of the secondary metabolite profile that the cannabis plant provides for medicinal purposes. “It is a challenge for growers to create consistency in their cannabis cultivation. The cannabinoid levels have to be consistent batch after batch to make it a reliable product for the patient and the pharmaceutical sector. However, cannabis plants adapt very quickly to a changing environment, meaning the cannabinoid levels also change, so creating that consistency is challenging. Technologies that can help improve the consistency of these pharmaceutical components in this plant are one aspect we’re looking at.”
“At Innexo, we believe there should also be less focus on producing the highest possible THC levels, as it is more important to grow the cannabinoids in a balanced yet consistent way.” Fortunately, there are a variety of technologies available that can help growers with their cultivation, such as LED lighting recipes, nutrients and biostimulants, and disease resistant varieties. “Of course, if growers have a stronger plant that is consistent and has fewer disease problems, that will also be very beneficial for many different reasons.”
Another important topic of research will be energy efficiency. Energy consumption is currently an important topic in almost all sectors. The cannabis sector is of course no exception. According to Van Gruisen, a cucumber grower in a greenhouse in winter will use cultivation lamps of around 250 micromol, while a cannabis grower in a greenhouse will have 1000 (or even more) micromol lamps. “In the Netherlands, for example, this could become a problem once permits are issued for a regulated, commercial cannabis market in the future. From the outset, we should focus on making cultivation as sustainable as possible.”
“It is important that we, together with our partners and customers, continue to think in innovative ways about how we can improve the sector and raise the benchmark. Indoor vertical farming, for example, can be a great way to maximize the space you have. But you can also look at different ways to use your greenhouse as energy-efficiently as possible.As a globally burgeoning cannabis industry, we can learn a lot from other sectors.But we need to be bold and work together to innovate, validate and shape a brighter future for patients dependent on cannabis-based drugs.”
These are just a few aspects that Innexo is looking forward to working on. “There is still great strides to be made in the cannabis industry and we are excited to help improve the industry and add it to the global knowledge base through contract research.”
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