Ora Pharm, a New Zealand based, international medicinal cannabis company based in North Waikato, has developed a proprietary cultivation process using Research and Development Grant funding from Callaghan Innovation, a New Zealand government agency supporting hi-tech businesses.
In June 2022, Ora Pharm was awarded a grant from Callaghan Innovation to develop new growing technology for the medicinal cannabis industry. The company are currently at the halfway mark of their trials and already seeing more than 40% increase in yield.
Ora Pharm is committed to developing high margin, low impact, community focused cannabis operations – and their partnership with Callaghan Innovation is a significant step forward in the company’s journey. Ora Pharm’s trial cultivation processes use a proprietary combination of cultivation techniques which significantly reduce cultivation costs and energy usage while simultaneously increasing plant yields.
The primary results from the first half of the trial will equate to a reduction in operating costs in Ora Pharm’s commercial greenhouse by more than 90% per cycle, while giving them more control over plant health. The increase in yield Ora Pharm has seen in their crop would equate to an increased revenue of up to 40%.
Continuous improvement and innovation are led by founder and CEO Zoe Reece. On her return to New Zealand, she saw the opportunity to use the fledgling medicinal cannabis industry to develop the local New Zealand economy with both raw and value-added products. The opportunity was further highlighted when the Ora Pharm operations were being set up, as most operational inputs were only available by importing them. “New Zealand thrives on innovation, we have the opportunity to create higher value products or reduce our costs by creating them locally.” Zoe Reece says.
Ora Pharm’s passion for New Zealand enterprise development is also closely tied to their local community and environment. Ongoing research efforts carefully consider opportunities for operational inputs and agricultural knowledge from within Aotearoa, and how that skill base might be developed further through training with the company’s network of international experts. Natural local resources are also leveraged in the company’s production systems. The smart design of Ora Pharm’s greenhouse leverages the energy produced by the sun, as light and heat, while using passive systems to ensure the greenhouse climate is within the ideal range. The plants are supplemented with low levels of LED light while the water used in the process is captured from the roof of the greenhouse.
Ora Pharm’s carefully measured approach to research, value engineered facilities and prioritised capital investment uniquely positions them to be a viable, long-term leader in the emerging medicinal cannabis market. “Our curated genetics portfolio and this recent innovation in crop-yields, made possible by Callaghan Innovation and our initial investors, is unmatched in the market.” Reece says.
Ora Pharm’s strong commercials and short path to profit prove that cannabis production is possible with a conservative injection of capital. Their strong business model focuses on long term development of medicinal cannabis exports for New Zealand, regional development for the Franklin District, and creating education and employment opportunities for local whanau.
Ora Pharm has sales contracts in place to export product to the Australian and European markets. To support this next phase of international expansion, it is evaluating additional investment partners who support their approach to deliver sustainable, high quality and cost-efficient plant medicine.