Building upon the knowledge we acquired from potential customers and identified their needs, we shifted our attention to developing the company. First of all, this was done by considering the power, interest and stance of other stakeholders in a Stakeholder Analysis to ensure that this does not form a barrier against successful introduction of PHOCUS in the market. Furthermore, we investigated how this product would fit in the market of locust pesticides in the Market Analysis. Also, we considered the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats regarding the production and introduction of PHOCUS in an SWOT Analysis. In the PESTLE Analysis, political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental threats to the production and introduction of PHOCUS were examined. How PHOCUS can be developed and implemented in a way that is good for the world is described in Responsible Innovation. Thereafter, we started creating a business model for the production and introduction of PHOCUS by using the Business Model Canvas as a tool to map the firm’s and product’s value proposition, finances, customers and infrastructure. It was assessed how we could fund research for the further development of PHOCUS and growth of the company in Patenting and Potential Funding. Besides identifying potential incoming cash flows through attracting investors, we also pitched to one of our potential investors, which is provided in Potential Funding. Afterwards, it was determined how PHOCUS could be produced on a large-scale by designing a factory in Manufacturing and exported to the site of application in Distribution. As one of our core values is safety, it was chosen to be in control of the manufacturing process of PHOCUS ourselves to be sure about the quality of the product. Finally, it was ensured that every aspect of the company and our product PHOCUS complied with all rules and regulation, which is described in Compliance. Finally, we determined our goals as a company and planned how to achieve these in the Project Plan.

Stakeholder Analysis

A potential pitfall for scientists and engineers is being too focused on their invention as the only solution to a problem. Therefore, they do not always take into account potential environmental influences. Moreover, they may not consider that their potential adopters may have different perceptions of the problem and the desired solution. By improper communication about the perspectives of stakeholders, scientists and engineers may not take into account the context they are inventing for. This could mean that the implementation of this solution will not have the impact its inventors aspired it to have or the technology might be used differently than devised.
We acknowledge that, to make a societal impact with our innovation, we have to be aware of who our stakeholders are, what they value, and keep them involved in our project. Therefore, from the start of our project, we placed great emphasis on approaching, engaging and analysing stakeholders in the appropriate way. For this purpose, first of all, the most relevant stakeholders were identified:

  • Farmers in affected areas are the ones that would benefit the most from the implementation of PHOCUS, as these people suffer from crop losses and are exposed to harmful chemical pesticides. Hence, the integration of their values and perceptions into our project has high priority.
  • The end-users of PHOCUS are the people and organizations that are currently responsible for locust control management:
    • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is responsible for global locust control. It aids national governments financially and operationally in their locust control efforts.
    • National governments of affected areas are responsible for national locust control efforts. In practice, they are highly dependent on the FAO.
  • The end-users are also regulators, such as national governments, and therefore, play a key role in acquiring admission for PHOCUS to be applied.
  • The public at large has to be generally accepting of using genetically modified bacteriophages in their country. This includes civil society organisations, such as environmental organisations.
  • Companies in the agrochemical industry may support our project through providing us information or funding, or, in case they feel threatened by upcoming competition, form hurdles against us through lobbying.
  • It is important to engage the scientific community in our project to obtain technical feedback on our project.

Next, it was assessed to what extent these stakeholders are interested in our product and to what extent they hold power over its success (Figure 1). While keeping this in mind, we conducted interviews with people corresponding to the stakeholder groups and kept them engaged to the right extent. Also, the power-interest grid was used to prioritize the values of different stakeholders according to their power on and interest in our product. These values were incorporated into a value-sensitive design.

Figure 1. Power-interest grid of stakeholders that are interested in and hold power over the introduction of PHOCUS.

Market Analysis

The level of competitiveness of the desert locust pesticide market was assessed using Porter’s Five Forces framework (Figure 2) [1]. This framework considers the degree of existing rivalry in the market through the estimation of the threat of new entrants and substitutes and the bargaining power of buyers and suppliers.

Figure 2. Assessment of the degree of existing rivalry of the locust pesticide industry using the Porter’s Five Forces framework [1].

Threat of new entrants

The threat of new entrants is low because:

  • Considerable barriers to enter the market exist. The development of a novel pesticide requires a lot of capital, upfront R&D investments, expensive and lengthy field trials and a multitude of permits.
  • FAO and national government policies place restrictions on what pesticides are admissible
  • The pesticide market enjoys economies of scale, which means that the production of pesticide becomes cheaper and more efficient when higher quantities are being produced.
  • Current pesticides enjoy a sense of brand loyalty and cumulative experience of the national governments who buy pesticides. They buy what they know.
  • When a new pesticide requires different equipment for its application, the customer faces switching costs. Therefore, a new pesticide will be less attractive for new entrants to commercialize.

Threat of substitute products

The threat of substitute products is moderate because:

  • A considerable amount of substitute products are available in the market, such as the currently used chemical pesticides and biopesticide. This increases the risk of a pesticide being substituted.
  • The biopesticide PHOCUS offers significant advantages over current methods, which lowers the customer’s propensity to substitute. This lowers the threat of substitute products.
  • The price performance of one group of substitutes, the chemical pesticides, is very good. This increases the threat of PHOCUS being substituted.
  • The market of desert locust pesticides is relatively heterogeneous, consisting of chemical pesticides, a fungal biopesticide and a phage biopesticide. PHOCUS benefits from the relative heterogeneity in the market as the perceived level of product differentiation is relatively high, which decreases the threat of substitution.
  • The switching costs of going from one pesticide to another is low, because most pesticides are being applied in a standardized way. This increases the threat to substitution.

Bargaining power of suppliers

The company PHOCUS depends on suppliers for raw material. The bargaining power of suppliers is low because:

  • Many suppliers of raw material required for pesticide production exist.
  • The raw material PHOCUS would require is not unique.

Bargaining power of buyers

The bargaining power of buyers is moderate because:

  • The number of buyers is high. Many different national governments are in need of desert locust pesticides. This lowers the bargaining power of buyers.
  • The size of each customer order, on the other hand, is very large. This increases their bargaining power.
  • The prices of chemical pesticides and biopesticides are very different. Biopesticides are more expensive. This increases the bargaining power of buyers on PHOCUS.
  • National governments and the FAO can easily switch from one pesticide to another, without significant switching costs.
  • This increases their bargaining power.
  • The information availability of buyers on prices of pesticides is poor. When a buyer places an order, it is important to get their desired amount of pesticides as soon as possible. For a quick delivery, they are willing to pay a premium. Therefore, they are not aware of potentially lower bids in the market. This decreases the buyers’ bargaining power.

In sum, the degree of existing rivalry in the locust pesticide market is decreased by the low threat of entrants and bargaining power of suppliers and increased by the moderate threat of substitute products and bargaining power of buyers. Thus, the competitiveness of the market is low to moderate.

SWOT Analysis

In this analysis, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the development and introduction of PHOCUS as a novel biopesticide against desert locusts (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the development and introduction of PHOCUS

PESTLE Analysis

Using a PESTLE Analysis, we identified the key political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors that can change the external business environment of PHOCUS (Figure 4). The understanding of this environment helps to minimize risks.

Figure 4. Analysis of the political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors that can play a role in the implementation of PHOCUS.

Responsible Innovation

We highly value sustainability (from a socio-economic and environmental perspective), quality, responsibility and circularity. In this section, we discuss our strategies to fulfill these values.


To solve the locust problem in a responsible way, our solution should ensure long-term sustainability. We interpret sustainability in two ways: from a socio-economic and an environmental perspective.

To be socio-economically sustainable, PHOCUS should benefit (or at least not negatively impact) those involved in any part of its life cycle. We intend to do this through:

  • Monitoring unintended side-effects

As our approach is novel, a possibility exists of unanticipated side-effects, such as human health effects of people applying PHOCUS and civilians living in areas where pesticides are being sprayed. By monitoring such side-effects through the analysis of blood samples, these can be picked as soon as possible and adequate measures can be taken. Additional monitoring of unintended side-effects can be done by measuring biodiversity.

  • Not exerting monopoly power

Through patenting, we would be the sole supplier of PHOCUS. If people become dependent on PHOCUS, this monopoly position could be exploited by asking higher margins. This should be prevented by ensuring fair competition, public supervision and anti-monopoly laws and policies.

From the environmental sustainability point of view, we intend to minimize the ecological footprint of each step in the life cycle of PHOCUS (Table 1) (Figure 5). To do this, we analysed these steps in a Life Cycle Analysis and came up with ecological footprint minimization strategies.

Table 1. Life cycle analysis of PHOCUS and ecological footprint minimization strategies.
Life cycle phase Life cycle analysis and footprint minimization strategy
Raw material extraction Raw material to produce PHOCUS include glucose, oxygen, water, amino acids, NH4OH. To minimize the footprint of extraction of these raw materials, we should establish a relationship with suppliers that equally emphasize environmental sustainability, for instance through bio-production of glucose and the use of renewable energy. These suppliers should preferably be in small proximity to the manufacturing facility to minimize transportation.
Manufacturing and processing We designed the manufacturing process of PHOCUS ourselves in SuperPro Designer. This bioprocess is designed to minimize energy costs through continuous batch scheduling and heat exchange. A downside of our bioprocess is that bacteria will convert glucose into CO2. We minimize CO2 emission and oxygen consumption by carefully choosing bioreactor conditions, as is described in Manufacturing We try to make use of as much renewable energy as possible.
Transportation The pre-existing distribution channel for pesticides against locusts is by ship or (in case of high emergency) by plane. These transportation methods are not sustainable. Unfortunately, we cannot make this distribution channel more sustainable without changing the distribution method itself. Therefore, we intend to package PHOCUS in a way that maximizes the quantity that can be exported.
Usage The biopesticide PHOCUS is compatible with current equipment for its application. This means that PHOCUS will be applied by spraying it on vegetation using helicopters and planes. This is not environmentally sustainable. Unfortunately, we could not think of a strategy to minimize the footprint regarding this aspect without affecting PHOCUS’ compatibility.
Waste disposal The active ingredient of PHOCUS, the engineered bacteriophage, is biodegradable, which means that its disposal is easy and non-polluting. To keep the ecological footprint regarding waste disposal at a minimum, we should make sure that the formulation of PHOCUS is equally environmentally friendly.
Figure 5. Life cycle analysis of PHOCUS.

Responsibility and Quality

PHOCUS will be produced in the EU because we live there and due to the high standard of quality. Although it is possible to produce high quality products in other countries, this would require more extensive controls, regulations and training. We put emphasis on a constant level of high quality because of multiple reasons:

  • A constant high level of quality will help us manifest ourselves as a reliable producer for the FAO and the national governments, by being effective, safe and reliable. In this way, our product and company will be (one of) the first in line to receive orders from them. This relation of trust is crucial in locust control, as these often take place in situations of crisis wherein people will revert to known partners, thereby reducing uncertainty.
  • The EU standard of quality is very high due to its precautionary attitude. European regulations are very strict and therefore, their admission of PHOCUS is the best starting point for gaining global approval. From the interview with Simonis B.V., we learned that sometimes it is effectively a prerequisite to have EU acceptance for gaining administration of your product in some other countries.
  • A responsibility lies with us, as scientists and developers, for potential harm caused by our product. As we do not want to bear the responsibility that our product has, for instance, harmed people or an ecosystem, we want to have the highest assurance of quality. To ensure a high quality, we want to oversee the production of the pesticide ourselves.

Throughout our project, we have had different ideas of how we want to set up production of PHOCUS. During our analysis of how we could ensure a value-sensitive design, we discovered that the value “accessibility” was not fulfilled. This is because of logistic issues with distributing pesticides for locust control. To better accompany this value into our project, we thought of creating smaller localized production facilities. By having these facilities co-owned by locals, the people living there would economically benefit from the production of PHOCUS and the product itself could be better adapted to the local context. The latter would ease the path of acceptance and implementation. However, we did not choose for a decentralized production of PHOCUS because this would make quality control too difficult. Also, giving communities their own local "virus printing" facilities raises security issues. Instead of making locals co-owner of a PHOCUS production facility, we intend to obtain acceptance from the people by trying to gain their trust and by engaging them with locust control through community-based surveillance of developing locust swarms.


If PHOCUS successfully kills (nearly) all desert locusts in a swarm, the ground is littered with dead locusts. To improve the circularity of our project, we explored the idea of using these dead locusts as food or feed. This would have great potential benefits for the people that are food deprived due to locust attacks on their crops. While talking to Em. Prof. Arnold van Huis (see Human Practices), we discovered that a difference exists in dead or living locusts: People only use locusts as food or feed if they are caught alive. This is because death of these locusts could be a sign of a disease. Therefore, we dropped the idea of using dead locusts as a new food source.

Living locusts, on the other hand, are being used for chicken feed in Pakistan. However, in these living locusts, sublethal doses of pesticides may be present. Therefore, if chickens then eat these locusts and humans the chickens thereafter, accumulation of these compounds in the human body may occur. The FAO stresses that people should not eat any locusts, dead or alive, because of the potential presence of pesticides. Unfortunately, people who are food insecure because of the locust upsurge, do not always have a choice in what to eat. Hence, some still eat these locusts. If PHOCUS is indeed as safe to human health as presumed, living locusts can again safely be used as food.

As we dropped our idea of using dead locusts as a source of food and feed, we searched for other potential uses of dead locusts. We found out that locust shells primarily consist of chitin. This compound can be recycled to chitosan, which is a biopolymer that is often used in medicine, food, packaging and in wastewater treatment [2]. Chitosan can also be further converted to glucosamine, which is a food supplement [3]. It should be noted that the biobased production of these compounds is not economically feasible yet [4]. However, once economically feasible, people could economically gain from locust upsurges by collecting dead locusts as raw material for chitosan production. This economic gain could be extremely helpful for people in food deprivation.

Business Model Canvas

A Business Model Canvas was constructed to quickly and easily define and communicate our business idea (Figure 6). It lists our key partners, activities and resources and cost structure. In addition, we described for whom we are creating value and what value that is. Furthermore, it is described through which channels we want to reach our customers, what type of customer relationship we want to establish and for what value customers are willing to pay.

Figure 6. Business Model Canvas of PHOCUS that aids in communicating our business idea.


Over the past few years, the number of bacteriophage patents in the field of biocontrol has grown [5]. One of the main goals of PHOCUS is to work towards patenting a cocktail of engineered bacteriophages. Large financial costs are associated with developing the product and bringing it to market. Owning a patent would be vital to ensuring that the company gets a return on their investment. It will also aid in preventing other organisations from replicating the approach. In the time leading up to the patent approval, PHOCUS will work as much as possible in secrecy to prevent any intellectual property theft.

Currently, PHOCUS is competing in the iGEM competition and therefore, all content that is presented will fall under the iGEM IP policy. Currently, they adhere to the creative comments (CC) attributions licence 4.0 [6]. This means that everything that is presented at the competition cannot be patented. The main product that PHOCUS plans to patent is the phage cocktail. It is not feasible to develop this within the scope of the competition. Once the phage cocktail is developed, the team will almost certainly apply for a patent.

In Europe, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has a two step process for patenting crop protection products, the registration of the active component and the approval of the product by each member state. This process can take upto three years and is very capital intensive. In general this has had a cooling effect on the advancement of many promising phage related technologies [5]. Our product involves engineered phages and a specific cocktail, this is likely to make it eligible for patenting.

Given the complexities associated with patenting the phage technology, PHOCUS is also evaluating alternative methods of protecting the moat provided by our phage technology. These include, regulatory, trade secrecy, exclusivities and alternative payment models [7].

Universities play a key role in facilitating the research, as it has with PHOCUS. This often means that they have a claim to the intellectual property developed during that research period. In general, universities have different policies with regard to the extent of their claim. In The Netherlands, the VSNU has recently published guidelines to the extent to which students retain intellectual property rights after the development of the technology [8]. However it is difficult to interpret how these rules and understand how they apply to a unique finding. To gain an understanding of the universities claim on PHOCUS, we reached out to the technology transfer officer (TTO) of the TU Delft [9]. Together, we are evaluating what the role of the university could be in the future of PHOCUS. Having the university as co-owner often provides access to the university's resources, which can be especially useful when starting a business.

Potential Funding

The funding of PHOCUS, the start-up, follows multiple distinct phases [10] (Figure 7):

Figure 7. Funding stages of start-up companies. Adapted from Lasrado (2013) [10].
  • Initial concept

During this phase, the biopesticide PHOCUS is being researched and developed until a first prototype has been obtained. We have already obtained generous funds from a.o. TU Delft, Erasmus University and several companies (link to sponsors). Also, after pitching the biopesticide PHOCUS to Simonis BV, a pre-selected supplier of our main customer, the FAO, they expressed high interest in funding further research efforts (Figure 8). However, more money is required to further develop PHOCUS after iGEM. This may be difficult to obtain, since we lack resources, proven competence and a track record and do not have access to the public equity market. Therefore, we should apply for university research grants. For instance, our own university, the TU Delft, or the university of Tel Aviv and KU Leuven (who are involved in locust research).

Figure 8. Meeting with Remco and Gerard Bod from Simonis BV in our faculty building at the TU Delft.
  • Seed

During this phase, we would obtain money from the 4 Fs: Family, Friends, Fools and Fans (crowdfunding). Donation-based crowdfunding would be performing through websites such as Kickstarter or Quirky. At this point, we would first introduce PHOCUS to the locust pesticide market, until the break-even point is reached.

  • Early start-up

From the break-even point onwards, PHOCUS will experience early growth. After having shown some competence, we can apply for grants from the government, cities or foundations, such as the DHI subsidiary (Dutch government grant to stimulate the initiation of businesses in international markets), or funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Expansion

In the expansion phase, we have established a reputation in the market and built steady relationships with suppliers and customers. Then, we can attract money by raising equity or debt. A high-tech start-up, like ours, is a growth company, which implies that it is more attractive to attract equity than debt. We have pitched our idea to experienced Venture Capitalist Alexander Ribbink, who gave us advice on how to be attractive for investors at this stage. He told us that it is important that investors believe in the competence of the leader of the start-up. Based on this advice, we altered the envisioned company structure to have a senior CEO.

  • Late

In this stage of the start-up, growth can be established in two ways: by going public (entering the equity capital market) or by being taken over by a bigger firm.


We designed the bioprocess for the manufacturing of PHOCUS. This process has to be:

  • Economically feasible
  • Environmentally sustainable
  • Safe

While not a lot of research has been done on the large-scale manufacture of bacteriophages, many design choices have been described by Agboluaje and Sauvageau (2018) and therefore, we will be using their guidance to design a manufacturing facility that is best suited for us [11]. In Figure 9, we show the overview of the plant we made in the software SuperPro Designer.

Figure 9. Bioprocess of PHOCUS including upstream processing, phage production and downstream processing.

The bioprocess to produce PHOCUS consists of three steps: bacterial growth, phage production and downstream processing. From our Dry Lab simulation, we found out that the bacteria concentration is an important factor to maximize phage production. Therefore, we decided to separate bacterial growth and phage production in time to allow the bacteria population to reach a high concentration. The step of encapsulating the engineered phages is not represented in Figure 9 because, according to the FAO and agrochemical company Simonis BV, the expertise required to design encapsulation is far beyond the scope of our project.

Bacterial growth:

  • Growth medium composition must be selected based on the bacteria, cost and yield.
  • Batch bioreactor. This prevents the accumulation of mutations in phages and bacteria.
  • The batch is scheduled continuously. This means that, although it is a batch operation, it resembles a continuous mode of production to maximize production.

Phage production:

  • Infection of bacteria must occur before entering its stationary phase to result in the maximum burst size (which means that the amount of phages produced is maximized) [11]. The time at which the phages should be inoculated is between one to two doubling times before the stationary phase. In the example of using E. coli to produce T7 phages, this means that phages are inoculated ~40 minutes before entering the stationary phase. These phages will use the bacteria to replicate until it has lysed all its hosts and cannot replicate anymore. From our simulation in Dry Lab (link to Dry Lab model 1), we found out that when using T7 phage and E. coli, the majority of the cells are lysed within 2 hours .

Downstream processing of phages:

  • Microfiltration. Biomass is removed and the lysate does not consist of cell debris anymore. An initial microfiltration step is a cost reduction because replacement of the filter in ultrafiltration is expensive.
  • Ultrafiltration. Residual impurities are removed and the lysate only consists of media and phages.
  • Drying. Media is removed and phages can be stored in powder form.

To decrease the ecological footprint of this process the consumption of glucose and production of CO2 by bacteria is limited. To do this, we asked for advice from biotechnology and metabolic engineering expert Dr. Robert Mans (Assistant Professor, Industrial Microbiology group, TU Delft). He told us that, for this objective, it is important to:

  • Make sure that the bacteria are always busy (either growing or producing phages) to reduce energy costs of cell maintenance.
  • Make sure that, during the bacterial growth phage, the cells grow as fast as possible. From the Herbert-Pirt equation can be derived that at the highest cell growth rate, the least amount of energy is wasted to energy costs of maintenance.
  • Limit unnecessary by-product formation (in our case: biomass). Therefore, we should limit cell growth during the phage production step.
  • Prevent oxygen limitations in the bioreactor. Oxygen deficiency triggers fermentation instead of respiration in the cell, which requires more substrate for the same amount of energy. Therefore, we should make sure that our bioreactor is aerated and ideally mixed.


The distribution process of PHOCUS begins once we have received an order from the FAO or national governments for PHOCUS. We will ensure that we have a sufficient stock of biopesticides available when an order arrives. The active ingredient, the engineered bacteriophages, can be stored in 5-10% glycerol for 30 days at -20 °C without losing viability or infectivity [12].

PHOCUS will often have to be exported to distant areas in the world. Transportation will preferably go by ship (costs 20 cents per liter). In case the pesticides are urgently needed, transportation will go by plane (costs 10 euro per liter). Once PHOCUS leaves our factory, it is difficult to maintain a cold chain, therefore the formulation must be suitable for transport at room temperature. Being liquid, PHOCUS will be packaged in standard PVC drums for chemicals because these can be easily checked by airport security and enable PHOCUS to be stored under room temperature conditions in a warehouse or storage area. To prevent unintended spread by damage to the drums, PHOCUS will be packaged in a sealed bag within the drum. Considering that PHOCUS is very sensitive to UV light, the drums and bags will be UV rated. The exact materials will be revised and ordered once the final formulation is known. Before and after transportation, the packaging of PHOCUS will be checked. At the harbour or airport, workers of the FAO or national governments will pick up their order.

Once delivered, PHOCUS can be stored in a warehouse or storage area under dry conditions. At which temperature PHOCUS has to be stored should be determined experimentally. When performing locust control, pesticides are generally being stored in a coolbox (at around 20 °C) for up to three weeks. Therefore, PHOCUS often has to be able to survive for three weeks at around 20 °C. Whether this affects the quality of PHOCUS should be validated experimentally.


For a new pesticide to be allowed to be manufactured and distributed, it has to comply with the rules of standard regulatory boards. Most countries either have their own board or are part of a collective of countries that has a regulatory board. These boards ensure that the product is safe during manufacturing and use.

Two main types of regulations need to be taken into account for PHOCUS:

  • Regulations regarding the admission of the biopesticide PHOCUS

Our product PHOCUS falls in the category of "genetically modified microbial pesticides" (GMMP). The regulations for these types of pesticides across the world are especially tight due to the unknown consequences of the novel underlying technology. Regular pesticides have standard testing protocols. In contrast, for the approval of GMMP, regulatory boards use an ad-hoc case-by-case approach. We found one detailed description of a regulatory framework for GMMP approval in Sub-Saharan Africa [13]. This can be found here. In this description, first, PHOCUS must be approved for importation and use by the appropriate biosafety agency. This agency follows national biosafety legislation, such as the biosafety act. The national legislation also needs to follow international standards developed by Codex Alimentarius. Once PHOCUS is approved for safety by the biosafety authorities, physical and chemical properties, toxicity, effectiveness, and ecotoxicity will be tested.

  • Regulations regarding manufacture of genetically modified phages

Since we will be manufacturing PHOCUS in the EU, we have to comply with EUs regulations for good manufacturing processes (GMP) of microbial products. Since genetically modified viruses have been used to a very limited extent outside the pharmaceutical industry, only guidelines for manufacturing for this industry are currently existing [14]. Therefore, we intend to comply with the EU GMP standards for microbial products in the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, considerations for starting materials, containments, cleaning, process, quality control/assurance and infrastructure are described for phages in short here by Bretaudeau (2020) [15].

Project Plan

We have planned how to further develop the product and the company PHOCUS by establishing our goals, scheduling how we want to reach those goals using a Gantt chart, and determining our organizational structure and culture.


Year 1:

  • Established our organizational structure
  • Have acquired sufficient seed money
  • Obtained a patent on PHOCUS

Year 2:

  • Have a working prototype of the biopesticide PHOCUS
  • Finished the development of the formulation of PHOCUS
  • Attracted a senior CEO
  • Have acquired sufficient money for field trials

Year 3:

  • Successfully performed field trials with PHOCUS
  • Have acquired sufficient money for building the factory
  • Obtained permission for the production of PHOCUS in the EU
  • Obtained permission for the application of PHOCUS from the FAO
  • Established relationships with customers and supplier
  • Finished design manufacturing plant for PHOCUS

Year 4

  • Constructed a manufacturing facility for PHOCUS
  • Have our first orders
  • Have reached break-even point and become profitable


We scheduled the activities required to reach our goals using a Gantt Chart (Figure 10). Some of these activities are scheduled in parallel to establish feedback loops between these activities.

Figure 10. Gantt chart depicting the schedule of developing and commercializing PHOCUS.

Organizational structure

We decided to keep our organizational structure flat to ensure responsiveness (Figure 11). This is particularly useful in the locust pesticide industry because fast decision-making and manufacturing are crucial when facing increasingly expanding locust swarms. Most current locust pesticides producers are large multinational companies, with a hierarchical structure and inert decision-making. Therefore, our small team with a flat structure provides a competitive advantage over current businesses.

We asked for advice regarding the desired organizational structure from experienced Venture Capitalist Alexander Ribbink. He told us that investors only invest in a start-up if it has attracted a particular level of seniority in the team. Therefore, we decided that the company PHOCUS should have an experienced CEO, who has worked with developing (bio)pesticides and bringing them to market. The remaining envisioned roles within the company, besides the CEO, were divided based on effective strategies from other biotech startups [16].

Figure 11. Envisioned organizational structure of the company PHOCUS. CEO: Responsible for managing the resources and operations of the company in addition to communicating with the partners/shareholders. General manager: Responsible for the daily operations of the company and managing the board. CTO: Responsible for developing the technology, completing the patent process and the research team. COO: Responsible for the day to day operations of the company, including future factory employees. CFO: Responsible for keeping PHOCUS financially healthy (maintaining the books) and acquiring the necessary capital to allow PHOCUS to fund both its daily activities and its future prospects. CMO: Responsible for building market interest and after product launch, acquiring market share. CCO: Responsible for increasing name recognition and maintaining productive relationships with our partners. HR: Responsible for administrative tasks, maintaining a healthy work environment and employee recruitment. PR: Responsible for the company's social media platforms.

Organizational culture

Throughout the company, empathy, open-mindedness and passion are all values that are core to the culture. All employees are expected to be respectful to each other's ideas. PHOCUS will have a company culture where everyone is allowed to fail and to excel, thereby promoting decision-making.

Assigning strict deadlines can often get in the way of a quality decision. This is because there is not enough time to analyze and process the relevant information. Besides the fact that it increases the chance of an arbitrary decision, it also increases the chance of nothing being done with that decision. To avoid the habit of setting strict deadlines, the management team will work as much as possible with long term goals [17].

Transparency with regard to the communication and responsibilities will be promoted at all times. This will make sure that everyone feels heard, knows what is going on and knows what they are responsible for within the organization. If the employees feel responsible, this naturally promotes decision making in the company.