Ark-Biodiversity develops state-of-the-art genomic and information technology methods for the containment of the global illegal trade in protected and endangered organisms. The illegal animal trade is today the fourth largest criminal sector in the world and, together with climate change and industrial overexploitation of nature, one of the three main factors in global species extinction. The company’s technological quantum leap allows a global forgery-proof registration of all protected and endangered species, as well as the traceability of all transactions with protected organisms. The technology is based on a single genomic test applicable to all higher organisms (including all vertebrates, invertebrates, arthropods and plants), which can be carried out economically, on a massive scale and eventually even “point of care” e.g. at ports of exit and entry in international trade. A salient result of this test, it provides an address system for genetic data of literally all organisms – one that could eventually serve as the standard for a blockchain-based global backbone for the Enforcement of the Washington and Nagoya Accords.
Following the acquisition of one of the market leaders in genetic analysis for species protection, LfA GmbH, Bonn & Rheinbach, we already offer one of the broadest ranges of genetic and genomic methods for origin and identity control for heavily traded, protected and endangered animal species.
In light of the undeniably dramatic global trend of rapidly declining flora and fauna, Ark Biodiversity was founded in 2019 by one of the most experienced teams in German biotechnology and information technology with a clear focus on developing technologies to protect biodiversity. With the acquisition of LFA, the only team with more than 20 years of experience in conventional species protection genetics has been taken on board.
SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM
ARK- LABORATORY RHEINBACH / BONN
Nelson Olek, Scientific Assistant
Luise Zimmermann, Student
Benedikt Schwab, Biological Technical Assistant
The loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest threats to humanity. Any damage to biodiversity is irreversible and its consequences are at best comparable to those of a nuclear war. Either we succeed in containing this danger or we will cease to exist as a species ourselves.
As quite all other global damage done by modern economic activity, the loss of Biodiversity is directly or indirectly caused by the industrialized nations. The consequences initially only (and mainly) devastate the species-rich and poorer countries; But Western and Asian Governments have understood that this only defers a certainly lethal disaster concerning themselves. Government and Non-Government funds to fight the problem are available in enormous quantities. Often, there already are the legal frameworks to fight the problem. The magnitude of the part of problem that we can address – illegal trafficking of animals – can even be quantified: the illegal trade in protected species and products derived from them is approaching that of drug-trafficking.
Countless localized, well-meant, often volunteer-based activities are underway to fight a global firestorm locally with what amounts to drops of water. And although Interpol, Europol, Customs Authorities, just to name a few, are in theory ready – and in practice legally obliged – to act globally in concerted action, laws are not, because cannot, be enforced. One major reason for this is an astounding lack of technologies applicable to curbing that illegal trafficking. There is no doubt that this is due to the private sector not having come up with ways to actually make money with methods to protect Biodiversity. Thousands of academic research groups address tiny slices of the problem. Had these groups the product in their hands that we are proposing to develop, a giant leap would be made by this huge community to determine the effects of the loss of Biodiversity on life (including ours) on the planet as whole.
The major precondition for quenching illegal trafficking, illegal breeding, poaching or processing of endangered species is to identify all possible specimens or sources of materials thereof, their geographical origin and their degree of genetic relatedness of literally tens of thousands of species, many millions of times per year. Today a different test must be developed and then routinely and inexpensively performed for each species – an obvious impossibility. The major reason for this is of a scientific nature. There are thousands – that being the tip of the iceberg only – of protected species and the way technology operates today, huge investments must be made into each of these species individually in order to protect them. This escalates the cost of creating methods to fight the problem to an extent that even a major Government (including the EU, US or China, the global leaders in at least determination) will not and probably even cannot shoulder.
Our invention, in part results from 20 years at the forefront of animal genetics and epigenetics and from the development of new generation genome technologies. We have found a way to classify at unprecedented detail any and every species on Earth with one single inexpensive and field-capable test. The science is such that unbreakable IP will result and the rise of copy-cats will be impossible.
There are several customer groups for our technology. These are law enforcement, industrial and collection (expensive endangered species) breeders, academic research and zoological gardens. The most important of which will no doubt be the world’s law enforcement agencies, struggling to enforce existing legal requirements already today. Groups like breeders will for the first time come under pressure to comply with these laws, as these will conveniently be enforceable with our product. Only two to four years after our market entry, animal trafficking for breeding purposes for example may well be entirely curbed.
In 2019, Ark-Biodiversity acquired 100 percent of the shares of Labor für Abstammungsbegutachtungen, LFA GmbH, a company that has been active in developing marker sets, and performing analyses aimed at curbing illegal animals trading for endangered and protected species for more than a decade.
In collaboration with Leibniz-Institut Museum Alexander Koenig, the project now called “FOGS”, was conceived and jointly submitted as a BMBF grant-application for one of the most advanced projects ever for Biodiversity Protection – largely focused on endangered animals native to Germany and surrounding countries. The project was approved end the end of 2019 and is now beginning its initial research phase.
The synergy with Ark-Biodiversity’s project is significant, as a number of the technologies developed in the FOGS-project can be integrated into Ark’s own proprietary technology, while Ark-Technologies will expand the practical application of many of the conceptual innovations of FOGS from a limited set of species to encompass literally all species, known and yet unknown.
We are proud and congratulate the team in our subsidiary company for achieving the milestone of acquiring this project and, as the parent company look forward to greatly expand the current collaboration with their partners.