Phytoform Labs Invests $5.7M In Climate-Resilient Crops: Phytoform, a company that has extensive experience growing crops in the UK, is working to make crops more resistant to the effects of climate change.
An artificial intelligence genome editing technology aimed at improving crops has received $5.7 million in funding from Eniac Ventures, a biotechnology company based in London and Boston.
Phytoform Labs Invests $5.7M In Climate-Resilient Crops
CEO Pelton, Agricultural Scientist
William Pelton and Nicolas Kral founded Phytoform in 2017 while they were completing their PhDs. In contrast to CTO Kral, CEO Pelton is an agricultural scientist. As a child, he heard stories from his grandfather. A farmer, about crops failing due to the weather and other factors in the United Kingdom.
Pelton said, “We are fortunate to be where we are because of our genetics”. To synthesise a complete plant genome, you only need to spend a few hundred dollars. While we were PhD students, Nic and I took a risk and decide to use technology to solve some of the issues we were facing.
The development of current breeding methods to improve crops typically takes decades, and the application of genetically modified organism technologies is limited, according to him.
Machine Learning And Genome Editing Technologies
Automate machine learning and genome editing technologies are using by Phytoform to identify new plant traits and reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint while developing climate-resilient crops. Finally, the crop varieties with the desired traits are modified using a method known as CRISPR genome editing that leaves no trace.
Plant genomes can modify to make them more pest and climate resistant, and to produce more consistently.
Drought, heat, and pest conditions are expecte to worsen in the coming years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Up To 14% Of Food Globally Is Loose Every Eear
Existing investors Pale Blue Dot, Refactor Capital, and Backed VC, as well as a group of angel investors. It is including Jeff Dean, Ian Hogarth, and Rick Bernstein, joined Eniac in the round.
“At Eniac, we are big believers in the future of sustainable agriculture,” said Vic Singh, general partner at Eniac Ventures. We examined how computational genomics can reduce food waste and increase consumer choice. We immediately drawn to Will and Nick’s approach of using deep machine learning on plant genetics and genome editing to offer consumers a portfolio of optimised produce.
The new funding will allow Phytoform to expand its team and accelerate its work introducing traits into tomatoes and potatoes to increase yield and reduce crop losses.
Seed Breeders And Producers
The co-founders expect a “great year” in 2022 as the company prepares to launch its tomato and potato programmes. From just the US to Australia and the UK, they are working on three other programmes.
They’ve also focused on partnerships with seed breeders and producers, with plans to expand to food producers in the future.
Pelton expects the company’s initial business model to be royalty revenue from seed sales. But that will change as its customer base evolves to include consumers.
Kral says Phytoform began the year with six employees and has doubled that now. It has also made good technological progress with AI proof of concept software and web lab capabilities.
“We still have a long way to go to finish the tomato programme, but we will keep doing trials,” he added. Our research shows that we can reduce the time it takes to create new varieties by half.