In the next five years, I’ll be shocked if we can’t increase farm profitability through greater crop and trait diversity.
We can and will accomplish this, but it’s going to take more than just large seed company innovation. We need the participation of innovators of every size and at every stage of the value chain.
At Benson Hill Biosystems, we are creating collaborations with partners to unlock nature’s potential in plants — empowering innovation across the value chain. Our crop design and development programs are focused on crop performance and sustainability, better health and nutrition profiles, and differentiated taste and texture characteristics.
Agriculture Lacks Investment Zeal
Starting my career in venture investing, I analyzed companies across human health and life sciences. It was there I became fascinated with agriculture. I wondered why many of the biotech tools and applications were not receiving the same investment attention across more companies in agriculture.
That “white space” in ag innovation led to the founding of Benson Hill in 2012, realizing that we could combine machine and human intelligence to accelerate genomic advancement – in our own programs while at the same time empowering others to do so.
We assembled a powerful core tech platform, CropOS (Crop Operating System), with interdisciplinary teamwork of our data scientists, engineers, molecular biologists, physiologists and mathematicians. It’s this incredibly diverse group of people at Benson Hill that help partner companies differentiate their products in bold new ways.
One example of CropOS in action is our photosynthesis trait development pipeline, where we have partnered with Beck’s Hybrids to co-develop and commercialize a leading product candidate in corn. This partnership will ultimately deliver more grower profitability, and it’s a great example of true collaboration making us stronger than the sum of our parts—as it’s all about creating value and offering choice.
CropOS also drives our Breed application, which leverages genomics-based machine learning to realize faster genetic gain in breeding cycles. Another more recently developed application is Edit, powered by CropOS. Edit can identify genetic targets within the natural variation of a species, enabling the utilization of our patented CRISPR nuclease portfolio for precise genome editing, and even more rapidly accelerating the breeding process.
Engagement with our Breed application has grown tremendously in the past two years, with more than a dozen new organizations across as many crops now using the platform to accelerate their breeding programs. Putting the power of cloud computing and machine learning in the hands of breeders everywhere is a crucial step to furthering an industry that has been starving for innovation for too long.
Food and Ingredient Partners
While the seed industry is a likely place to focus a technology platform like CropOS, we also believe that the broader food production value chain is critical to maximize impact. Last year we took a deeper dive down the supply chain, working with companies like Mars in cacao and AB InBev in barley. These forward-thinking food companies are using Breed, powered by CropOS, to help build more sustainable crops that not only will be better adapted to changing climate, but will also have improved flavor and nutritional profiles.
What excites me most is building this community of innovation, by partnering with thoughtful researchers and companies looking to deliver products that benefit both farmers and consumers. It’s a food system mentality that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and innovative companies are changing the business model to deliver a tasteful experience directly to consumers that want it, creating new markets for growers and those serving them.
This all opens huge opportunity for growers and a supply chain that wants to engage. We’re building a community, come join us!