With the advances in science and technology, startups are stealing headlines and changing the status quo of industry processes and procedures that are nearly engraved in company SOPs. With a direct tie to the seed industry, either from a competitive standpoint or from the ability to contribute, we’ve put together a list of five companies to watch.
Breeding for flavor? Think of crowdsourcing blended with consumer research and you’ve got FlavorWiki. This startup turns everyday consumers into accurate taste testers, able to evaluate flavor, texture, aroma and mouthfeel simultaneously. Using a unique, patent-pending digital sensory technology, FlavorWiki helps the food and beverage industry evaluate consumer perception and preference in record time, from anywhere in the world. Named “Best Food Startup” at Kickstart Accelerator, the company reached the final round of the EIT Food Accelerator Network Program.
When you’re waiting for a three-day test — be it food that might spoil or seed that’s waiting to be planted — inventory sits. This company developed low cost, rapid, high throughput, genetic analysis for seeds and pathogens. For food safety, SnapDNA eliminates the 3-day test/hold, replacing it with a 20 minute total time-to-result pathogen analysis using only live cells. This is big for companies that depend or have to wait on culture tests. After nearly eight years working to develop, define and fine-tune it, CEO and co-founder David Medin believes this technology will elevate supply chain transparency, providing quantitative, strain specific results for rapid identification, isolation and eradication of pathogen contamination in food production.
Agrosmart broke the sensor barrier with its soil moisture meters — they don’t require internet or cellular signals to collect data. Used in nine countries across 520,000 acres and on 15 different crops, these on-the-ground sensors also track pest and disease pressure. Not only are the soil moisture meters being used for smart irrigation control by farmers; companies such as Cargill, Syngenta and Coca-Cola are also using the platform to monitor and benchmark the sustainability of their supply chains, better understand climate risks and provide transparency to their customers.
New West Genetics
In its infancy is a multi-billion-dollar market: Hemp! U.S. farmers planted 77,000 acres in 2018, up from 23,343 acres in 2017 and increases will continue. As most hemp seed is imported from Europe and Canada, U.S. agronomic conditions haven’t been taken into account and the seed hasn’t proven stable. New West Genetics is the first to deliver U.S.-bred, AOSCA-certified hemp seed to the market. The variety name is Elite for grain use.
Not many companies come out and say they want to change the status quo when it comes to farmers and seed choice, but Inari did … and it’s not pitching soft ball. With heavy-weight names such as Ponsi Trivisvavet and Julie Borlaug and a board that includes the likes of Mike Mack and Howard Buffett, they are slamming it and attracting big investors as well. Named a 2019 Technology Pioneer by the World Economics Forum, Inari’s technologies have been proven at field-level trials with higher-yielding gene-edited tomatoes, and in the lab, with new diversity introduced simultaneously through five natural genes in corn.