Sherbrooke-based Laboratoire M2 announced at a press conference in Beijing that it’s launching Thymox, a non-toxic, non-carcinogenic “footbath” for dairy cows in China. The announcement hits on a major trend within global cleantech: China is open for business and Quebec startups aren’t wasting any time.
(And any time we get to write a headline and lede with the words “cow footbath,” it makes for an interesting day).
More seriously, Laboratoire M2 is a portfolio company of the cleantech-focused Montreal venture capital firm, Cycle Capital.
Laboratoire M2 is calling Thymox is “the only scientifically proven, effective hoof treatment for DD that is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and safe for both farm workers and cows.”
“The entry of Thymox into the Chinese market is another major step in the global commercialization of our revolutionary technology, and a major leap ahead for the rapidly emerging Chinese dairy industry,” said founder Serge Auray.
For the first time, he said, farmers in China will have a product to fight digital dermatitis (DD), one of the most costly infectious diseases that can affect 12 million dairy cows in China, using “the most effective, safe and ecologically sound product available.”
The news carries significance that goes beyond cows hoofs.
China represents a huge market for cleantech companies around the world. It’s a country “desperate for solutions to pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions,” according to the Globe and Mail. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that China will pump over US$320 billion into its wastewater sector alone. On Canada’s homefront, Vancouver opened its China Canada Clean Tech Innovation Centre in late 2015, with millions set to be invested by Chinese high-tech investment group Hanhai Zhiye Group.
Cycle Capital’s founder Andrée-Lise Méthot told MTLinTECH that “the market for Canadian cleantech companies is the world, and, principally, the green economy today is China.”
And thus, we have a Canadian-funded company from Sherbrooke investing in cow hoofs. Given that Chinese farmers collectively farm over 12 million dairy cows for a living, it seems like a big deal. According to Laboratoire M2, there are an estimated 270 million dairy cows worldwide that are susceptible to digital dermatitis. Those same cows produce about $240 billion USD of milk annually.
The expanding availability of Thymox footbath throughout the global dairy industry “will offer…productivity for their cows, not to mention the removal of millions of tons of toxic chemicals from their workplace and the environment.
Unlike caustic copper sulfate or toxic formaldehyde products traditionally used by farmers, Thymox is the “green” alternative that is non-corrosive and biodegradable. Its active ingredient, thymol, is found in the plant thyme.
Thymox was awarded the lowest toxicity rating possible on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scale. It was also recently approved as the first drug to treat and control DD in Canada. Commercial use of Thymox in agriculture and animal health “has already saved the environment from poisoning by heavy metals that would otherwise have been washed into the soil,” said the company.