SOLASTA Bio prepares for US growth

SOLASTA Bio, a UK agritech specialising in the next generation of green insecticides, has appointed industry veteran Paula Pinto as Chief Strategy Officer to head up its US operations that will be based in North Carolina.

As a member of SOLASTA Bio’s senior leadership team, Paula will be responsible for defining the company’s global go-to-market strategy, developing corporate alliances and collaborating with Chief Business Officer Daphne Preuss - another new executive appointment to the team - in negotiating those alliances. Paula will also take on management of day-to-day US operations.

A chemical engineer by training, Paula is recognised as a Global Leader and Non-Executive Director with more than 5 years of board experience amidst a 25-year international career in P&L, marketing and operational roles for multi-billion-dollar enterprises in specialty chemicals and agricultural solutions industries. With almost 4 years in leadership roles at UPL, she positioned the company as a global leader in sustainable agricultural solutions and embedded new levels of capability across critical areas of the business.  Prior to this, she spent nearly a decade with Arysta LifeScience in global marketing, portfolio management, and strategic alliances roles, and subsequently co-headed its integration with UPL, creating the world’s 5th largest crop protection company.  Paula’s formative career was with GE Silicones and predecessor/successor companies.

Chief Business Officer Dr Daphne Preuss is an experienced entrepreneur focused on bringing genetic and biotechnology innovations to agriculture. For the past four years, her firm, Catalytical, has supported the CEOs of several innovative companies to help channel their vision, passion and energy into commercial, rapidly growing, efficient operations. She previously founded, built, and served for 11 years as President and CEO for Chromatin – an innovator in sorghum that developed and distributed sorghum seed to growers in over 50 countries. Prior to joining Chromatin, Preuss was a Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the University of Chicago.

The appointments of Paula and Daphne underline the company’s commitment to gender diversity across its leadership team, with three out of four board positions occupied by women and three out of seven leadership positions.

Based in Glasgow, SOLASTA Bio is led by co-founding management team Shireen Davies, PhD, FRSE, CEO, Professor Julian Dow, PhD, ScD, FRSE, CSO, and former BASF senior executive Dr Paul Bernasconi, alongside Chair, Dr Rob Wylie and CFO, David Armour. Alongside Dr Rob Wylie, Board directors are Shireen Davies, John Carrigan PhD, Investor Director Yield Lab Europe, Sherri Brown PhD, former MD of Yield Lab North America and senior executive at Monsanto with 30 years of experience in innovation in the agricultural industry and plant science, and Nicky Deasy, Co-Founder and former Managing Partner at The Yield Lab Europe and CEO Alta Finance.

The company currently employs a team of 20 R&D, commercial staff and consultants, having added 12 new people over the past 6 months.

The appointments come on the back of a further round of investment totalling £4 million, earlier this year, to scale up the development of the company’s unique nature-inspired pesticides, the first of their kind to be developed worldwide. SOLASTA Bio develops environmentally friendly Insect Control Agents (ICAs) that meet a global need for novel modes of action that deliver effective crop protection. These ICAs also preserve the ecosystem by protecting beneficial insects such as bees.

Having run several successful early-stage R&D trials with commercial partners, SOLASTA Bio is on course to bring its first biopesticides to market in 2027/28, around half the time traditionally taken by conventional pest control products. SOLASTA Bio’s technology is patent protected with further patent protection currently under submission.

Shireen Davies PhD, CEO, SOLASTA Bio commented: “These appointments are a real coup for SOLASTA Bio and represent a major step forward in its growth plans. With significant experience working in both major corporates and in agritech startups, alongside a passion for reshaping agriculture and food ingredients into more environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions, both Paula and Daphne will play a key role in helping us to forge the right partnerships with the right corporations, allowing us to achieve our ambitions of commercialising in 4-5 years’ time. Their knowledge of the US market, in particular, will be of great benefit as we look to step up our stateside operations in the coming months.”