The new joint venture company is effective from July 2015. The two companies are rural, family run businesses based in Ireland and Australia operating separately for more than 25 years.
Minister Paul Kehoe, who has given encouragement to the new joint venture, visited the lab on 31 August to welcome Lowes TC owners Greg and Margaret Lowe to Enniscorthy and was updated on progress to date.
FitzGerald Nurseries owner Pat FitzGerald said: "As managing director of Gadera Ltd, our wholly owned laboratory company, I saw many opportunities evolving for the company on international markets and the home market that we were not taking advantage of due to limited time, technical focus and funding. With Lowes TC now coming in as the managing partner of this new joint venture company I expect the business will fulfill the potential of this technology and increase our exports."
He said Lowes TC Pty is recognised as the biggest and best tissue culture lab in Australia producing millions of plants each year from over 1,000 cultivars in their Australian and Indian labs.
FitzGerald Nurseries has developed sales and plant intellectual property in 26 countries and will continue to play a "major role" in hardening the laboratory output, product development, assessment and strategic planning for this new venture.
Regarding changes ahead FitzGerald said: "Our existing customers and suppliers will see little change in how we operate sales and distribution. The availability of more stock, safer supply chain, more value through consistent quality, larger numbers and a wider range of plants will follow over the coming two years. All this will be achieved through careful, focused and strategic supply chain development and management."
Lowes TC director Simon Pettinger said: "The formation of LowesTCe allows the proven service solutions developed by Lowes TC in Australia over the last 20 years to now be available in Europe. The specialised Tissue Culture software we have developed along with our leading edge TC tech allows us to do 5,000 per year plant lines just as efficiently as those 200,000+ per year plant lines. Customers get exclusive and confidential propagation of their IP plant lines and we don’t charge for the R&D costs of developing new commercial plants into TC.
He added: "We plan to grow LowesTCe rapidly over the next few years, bringing a new type of commercial plant TC lab and great customer service to Ireland for all of Europe."
Greg Lowe, the founder of the Lowes TC group, said the Lowes TCe facility allows the group to easily service the EU with production of high health, uniform tissue culture plants, solving quarantine and supply issues and developing new markets for plant breeders.
The close relationship with FitzGerald Nurseries means that high quality hardened plants will also be available to all European customers.
FitzGerald Nurseries employs 25 people at its Kilkenny facilities and one in Germany. The overall number of employees will grow to 30 people over the coming months. Lowes TC group employs 140 staff outside of Ireland. The Enniscorthy tissue culture facility previously employed 13 people, this has grown to 17 since July. To meet current demand it is envisaged Lowes TCe will grow to 25 staff over the coming months and to 50 within 2-3 years.