ATANN, Portugal’s first cannabis contract manufacturing company, has successfully been granted its GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practice) licence, enabling it to begin supplying cannabis clones to licensed cultivators.
It marks the latest in a string of significant developments over the past year for the young company, which aims to add GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and GDP (Good Distribution Practice) licences to its list of accolades over the next few months.
With fresh funding now secured, a new R&D project with Lisbon University in the works and swift progress being made across a number of other projects, Atann’s CEO Edward Duffy tells BusinessCann that his company can now focus on ‘realising its mission statement’.
“We’re now financially secured, and it allows us to focus on offering much needed contract manufacturing services for cultivators which is why we started this business.”
Portugal is fast becoming a key location for European cannabis, seeing companies like Akanda, Somai Pharmaceuticals and Tilray make significant investments in the region to take advantage of its ideal growing conditions, favourable regulatory environment and proximity to other key European markets.
Despite this, as Mr Duffy explained to BusinessCann last year, a small portion of the country’s nearly 100 cultivators are growing product which meet GACP specifications due to their inability to access good genetics, meaning they are forced to sell their crops as biomass or dispose of it altogether.
This summer, Atann successfully secured its first GACP licence under its subsidiary Galaxiavertical SA, authorising it to begin addressing this issue by selling premium cannabis clones to local licenced cultivators.
Galaxiavertical recently launched into a partnership agreement with the Canadian tissue culture supplier SEGRA, allowing its nursery team to maintain a healthy mother stock and guarantee the supply of superior quality, disease free genetics to the local domestic and EU cultivation industry.
Its nursery is currently able to produce 9000 clones and 6000 mature cultivars per month, but has the capacity to triple this footprint as its operations grow.
This could soon be necessary, with Atann reportedly already having supplied its first batch of mature plants to a local cultivator as part of a trial for a ‘far larger’ supply agreement scheduled for March 2023 due to see the Galaxiavertical team reach close to full capacity during the pre-summer plantation window. It added that a ‘strong and steady’ increase in clone sales are forecast for the next six months.
Furthermore, Atann says that it has now commissioned an inhouse laboratory for indicative testing for Portuguese cultivators, who ‘have very limited options available to them to get analytical testing done’.
This will offer cultivators a one day turnaround on test results at a cheaper price than its current competitors, which will screen for common viruses like Hop Latent Viroid, Lettuce Chlorosis Virus and Cannabis Cryptic Virus. In early January, the lab will offer screening for mould, mildew and moisture content.
“We’re strong believers that cultivation has to be data driven. If cultivation isn’t data driven, you’re running blind. Your yield and your potency will be affected, but if it’s identified early that can change everything.”
GDP & GMP Licences
Over the next nine months, Atann also expects to complete the inspections for both its GDP and GMP licences, allowing for the expansion of its operations well beyond selling clones.
Atann’s core team has a combined experience in the pharmaceutical and medical cannabis industries, and together have successfully attained eight GACP and GMP licences across different continents.
The group says that construction of its GDP warehouse has now been finalised, with its licence inspection due before the end of the year. This inspection will also include the licensing of its cryogenic freezing and temperature-controlled storage services, understood to be the only such service available in Portugal.
Once attained, Atann will not only be able to carry out distribution and warehousing services for its clients, but through its flash-freezing service will be able to process up to two-tons of product per day, store it in large freezers, then undergo extraction in Atann’s in-house facility.
This extraction operation will occur under its second subsidiary, Lompostran, which is scheduled to receive its GMP inspection for phase 1 of its 900sq metre manufacturing space for dry flower processing services in Q2 next year.
According to the company, an area of just over 110sq metres will be dedicated to API extraction and purification services, which will utilise an in-house solventless extraction method.
Mr Duffy explained: “Our in-house extraction design omits the use of harmful chemicals which can extract cannabinoids and the acid derivatives from wet, dry or flash frozen cannabis biomass.
“Equipped with in-line sensors to monitor the critical process parameters through the BMS, the fully automated controls avoid human intervention and significantly lowers processing cost. The in-house design of the semi-automated extractor and mild processing conditions allows Atann’s to produce a true full spectrum oil of up to 800 litres per batch.”
Though its extraction facility is not expected to be fully operational until Q4 next year, Atann says it has raised enough funds through both a grant application with Compete EU 2020 and additional private investment to cover the completion of its GMP facility and ‘operational expenditure for the first two years’.
“I suppose there’s a feeling that the pressure is off us now that we’ve attained EU funding. We’ve got private investment which will cover us to finish construction, get the GMP licence, and the first two years of operations. Now we can focus on getting these services to clients,” Mr Duffy added.
“There’s an exciting new R&D collaboration with Lisbon universities that we’ve started. We mainly want to focus on creating novel formulations for medicines and that’s what the projects are going to be based around. We’ve signed up a couple of universities and we’re kick-starting that project in 2023.”