Ag-Biotech is a sub-category of the AgTech sector. See all definitions of FoodTech and its categories here.
The “Ag-Biotech” FoodTech category regroups startups innovating on living systems and organisms for agriculture (notably crops), animal feed and health.
Plant-based startups aim to increase the amount of proteins in their product (as plants have a lower ratio of proteins compared to animal-based products). One answer could be to “develop” crops with a better protein ratio.
Most of the plants we eat today are human-made evolutions of ancient crops developed through breeding and selection. Startups are now working to quicken this process through bio-engineering and machine learning. There are two major ways to achieve it:
- with non-GMO processes, using bio-technologies to sequence DNA, big data and machine learning to identify the best matches
- with the gene-editing CRISPR-CAS-9 technique (non-GMO but controversial), a “find and replace” gene technique. Startups in this domain are able to create crops (pea, wheat) with a protein ratio up to 40%.
Insect for animal feed
Almost a decade old, the insect ecosystem has evolved from its focus on human nutrition toward animal feed. In the last couple of years, some of them have moved from experimentation to mass production. Europe is leading in this domain in quite a surprising way. As many ventures were created to focus on human foods made for protein, many countries banned these products as untested and potentially unsafe. This has led many startups to move toward B2B and then animal feed.
To support this growth, insects for animal feed is one of the few areas where startups have to develop industrial facilities. This has many benefits on the ecosystem as a whole, as it physically shows that startups can be more than gig job providers.
Key startups to consider
- Leading startups in the animal-feeding using insects sector: Ynsect, InnovaFeed
- Tropic Biosciences, the leader in the development of novel high-performing commercial tropical crop varieties and traits, using cutting edge genetic editing technologies
- Inari, a US startup which aims to build a “seed foundry” with the ability to recreate genetic diversity and create a feedback loop directly connected to farms.
- Caribou Biosciences, also an American startup, which is using Crispr-Cas9 technology in various domains, among which agriculture in order to create crops with high-protein profiles.
- Equinom, an Israeli company, which develops non-GMO improved seeds. It has in its portfolio a high-yield sesame, and a pea variety that has a 40% higher ratio of proteins.
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