April 1, 2015

Easy Bio: A focus on research, not much on marketing




In its early days of operation, South Korean biotechnology company Easy Bio gave research greater priority over marketing. Now it is reaping the benefits of this foresight and strategy.


The company was established in 1988 with the belief that enzymes could help livestock farmers boost profitability by improving feed conversion ratio in animals, aside from promoting environment-friendly animal husbandry.


Dr. Stevenson Hwang, director of Easy Bio, in an interview with Feed Business Worldwide magazine, recalls that most of feed enzymes in the 1990s were produced with xylanase and -glucanase mainly for wheat- and barley-based diets that were common in Europe but not in many other countries, such as Korea, which used corn and soymeal in feeds.


Easy Bio saw GNC Bioferm-an enzyme technology-based company established by eminent scientists Dr. Leigh Campbell and Dr. Jan GroothWassink in Canada-as the most logical entity to tie up with. GNC Bioferm was the first company to successfully register NSP (non-starch polysaccharides) enzyme in the EU.


Recognising South Korea's need for NSP enzyme for corn-soy based diet, "we contacted GNC Bioferm if they could develop the enzyme that we needed," Dr. Hwang says. Soon after, a joint venture was formed to develop and manufacture the first NSP enzyme in the world designed for corn-soy based diet."


Born in 1998, the joint venture, called Esys Bioferm, was forged with another noble mission in mind - to help promote an environment-friendly way of doing business. "GNC Bioferm produces feed enzyme through fungal solid fermentation without any waste. And this system exactly fitted what Easy Bio stood for all along," according to Dr. Hwang.


He admits Easy Bio was not exactly a remarkable feed additive company in global terms. Nor was it strong in marketing. All it had was a strong desire and commitment to develop products that actually benefit its customers. So, it poured much of its resources into research, much more than it did for marketing.


"Through lots of research projects in universities and institutes in the USA, Thailand and Brazil, as well as in Korea, we proved that Endo-Power is the right enzyme to degrade specific NSPs in corn and soybean meal based diet and the solution for saving energy, nutrients and cost in these diets scientifically," Easy Bio's director says.


He adds that customers who tried Endo-Power experienced first-hand the product's efficiency.  Through word of mouth, Endo-Power's popularity grew steadily.

Easy Bio has different R&D facilities, all working to improve animal nutrition. Basic researches on enzymes and molecules are undertaken by Bio-Resource Institute, OptiPharm (a subsidiary biotechnology research company) and GNC Bioferm.


Livestock Science R/D&T Centre and Easy Animal Research Centre mostly contribute to design reformulated diets with enzyme, and conduct scientific animal trials with swine and poultry, while Central Analysis Laboratory is in charge of feed and enzyme analysis.


All of its products are evaluated and tested at universities and third-party institutes in other countries. But before any product is released and marketed commercially, it is tested once more for efficiency in a very big, integrated commercial farm with over 15,000 sows and 100 million broilers sold annually.


While the Endo-Power business contributes around 10% to the feed additives business of Easy Bio, the company aims to become a leading enzyme supplier through diversified Endo-Power brands within the next five years.


Dr. Hwang says markets and customers now understand the value of NSP enzymes in corn and soymeal based diet especially in terms of feed cost savings since Endo-Power came into the picture. In a way, the entry of Easy Bio's End-Power has revolutionised the feed enzymes industry, according to Dr. Hwang.


Easy Bio developed a dynamic artificial gastro-intestinal system for swine and poultry that simulates actual intestinal tract condition and that could prove how enzymes work in a live animal indirectly. Also, an Endo-Power test kit was introduced to detect enzyme in any type of final diet with very low dosage through the change of reagent colour by enzyme reaction with substrates.


Easy Bio has also tried to provide more benefits to its customers, finding a solution such as complete digestion with degradation and absorption function by adding Lipidol, an absorption accelerator based on functional lysophospholipids. With complete digestion, customers could save more energy and nutrients and finally cost than with only enzyme in the diet.


These innovative technologies have helped ease customers' concerns regarding feed enzymes.


Dr. Hwag cites one advantage of Endo-Power in that it remains very stable under low pH level while most other enzymes lose their activity in acid condition. An enzyme, he explains, should be active in low pH such as the stomach.


"Even if Endo-Power is not coated and not a liquid enzyme, tests and trials have shown it to be very stable under normal pellet condition. This is in fact the reason why Endo-Power is widely accepted by broiler integrators," he says.


Endo-Power has also iso-enzymes that degrade substrates much efficiently compared with single enzyme or blended product of different single enzymes. This is because Endo-Power is produced through solid fermentation of non-GMO fungi, he explains.


More recently Easy Bio collaborated with Chr. Hansen in enhancing the usability of BioPlus 2B, a probiotic solution which has been upgraded to BioPlus YC. Chr. Hansen developed BioPlus YC, but Dr. Hwang says Easy Bio hopes to expand its use through further research.


"Easy Bio and Chr. Hansen are discussing ways to give customers more value for money by combining two products in an animal's diet," he says.


Easy Bio forecasts that the future potential markets for its enzymes still lies in the countries where corn and soymeal are mostly used. China and Africa will be additional key markets of Easy Bio enzymes, he says, especially in the light of the company's successful registration in China last year."


Dr. Hwang says Easy Bio plasn to penetrate the EU market in five years not just with its corn-soy based diet enzymes, but also with those based on wheat or barley diet.


In short, Easy Bio is open to a host of other possibilities.


"As the supply of major grains such as corn and soybean meal do not fully meet the demand from growing animal industry worldwide, customers may have to formulate the feed with much diverse ingredients," Hwang says. "So we should provide the solution to maximise nutrients and energy utilisation in many different types of diet," he concludes.

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