For founders building solutions applicable throughout the entire Ag value chain—from producer to plate.
Avalo is a plant improvement company leveraging recent advances in interpretable machine learning to create the next generation of crops. Avalo minimizes the time it takes to produce new plants by creating new efficiencies in the breeding pipeline. Currently working on cold-tolerant rice, leafy greens for indoor agriculture, and cover crops, Avalo aims to produce novel crops and plant products that support the next century of agriculture.
Holganix uses a patented methodology of stacking, concentrating, and stabilizing large consortiums of microbes. The resulting bio fertilizer, Bio 800, contains over 800 species of soil microbes that work to improve the economic and long-term sustainability in land management. For farmers, Bio 800 improves fertilizer efficiency, crop yield, and soil health to provide a two to 10x ROI.
IXON has developed a food sterilization and packaging technology called Advanced Sous-vide Aseptic Packaging (ASAP) that enables lightly-cooked meat, fish, seafood and eggs to be stored at room temperature for up to two years. Using ASAP, IXON can ship animal proteins directly to customers around the world without cold chain logistics.
Liven creates protein ingredients without involving animals by upcycling food and agriculture by-products. Liven’s technology involves genetically engineering microorganisms, such as yeast, that transform agriculture and food by-products (pea starch, spent grains, etc.) into protein ingredients (collagen, gelatin, egg proteins, etc.) through a fermentation process. Animal-free protein ingredients help plant-based foods achieve their full potential in delivering taste, texture, and cooking experience. Liven’s mission is to enable a circular economy in the food industry to make it more sustainable.
Re-Nuble’s proprietary Organic Cycling Science approach takes unrecoverable vegetative waste from food production and turns it into nutrients and growing media for indoor growing. Using a combination of biological processing technology and raw materials, vegetative waste byproducts are turned into water-soluble nutrient compounds (e.g. nitrate, phosphate, and organic forms of nitrogen) which are better absorbed by the plant, producing comparable yields at a similar price point in a sustainable manner.
Root Applied Sciences is developing a pathogen monitoring system that provides farmers and agronomists with early warning of airborne pathogens. Root’s system includes a quantitative DNA-based analysis designed for automation which enables producers to make informed decisions on pesticide use. Ultimately, it will detect pathogens before symptoms appear, eliminating unnecessary pesticides.
Avalo uses interpretable machine learning to accelerate biological production and crop development. The company had three full-time employees and had just raised a seed round of funding when it joined CDL. Mentors Tom Urban and Douglas Beach helped transform the company from a “mad scientist” project into an actual operator, co-founder Brendan Collins said.
At its core, the company is an AI gene discovery platform. Because it’s a platform-based, deep-tech company, its product could have a huge number of applications. Early on, the team decided it would have the most impact by focusing on climate and agriculture. But agriculture is an extremely consolidated industry; if you aren’t working with one of the big four players, it can be hard to see a path to success, Collins said. Beach’s coaching helped Avalo find an alternative path by seeking out smaller markets. Instead of taking on every possible project, Beach pushed the team to focus on a few applications and leverage those for access to bigger markets in the future.
Indoor agriculture and vertical farms shot to the top of the list because they’re rapidly expanding, well-capitalized markets with whole new genetic requirements. “It represented a really awesome opportunity for us to start developing niche crops for these markets,” said Collins. Avalo landed its first customer — a large indoor robotic farm — during its time at CDL and is now creating a super broccoli for that client. The approach CDL mentors recommended has the advantage of quick turnaround times. Avalo can now validate its technology and get to commercialization faster. “It also sets up this narrative that the technology works, and the business model works as well. So we can then say, ‘Okay, we’re going to take the same technology, the same business model, and now apply it to much bigger outdoor markets.’” Avalo hired five new staff members during its time at CDL and outgrew two offices. It’s shooting for its Series A round in Q1 of 2023.
Focusing time on defining how they might sell what they provide now will make the rest of the customer engagement better.
Douglas Beach • Associate, CDL-Rockies Jan 27, 2022 @ 4:40 PM ET