ISRAEL – German nutrition and agricultural solutions company, BASF has lead a funding round in Israeli AgTech startup, Equinom through its investment arm, BASF Venture Capital.
Existing investors who also joined this round include, among others, Fortissimo Capital, a leading Israeli private equity fund, as well as Roquette, a global leader in plant-based ingredients for food, nutrition and health markets.
Equinom utilises computerized breeding technology to provide optimized seeds for the food industry to help it meet growing demand for plant-based products used as ingredients, clean label packed goods and healthier lifestyle cuisine.
According to the company, the startup’s bioinformatics-based technology accelerates seed breeding, achieving new levels of efficiency.
“We strategically crossbreed plants for targeted characteristics, often reintroducing important characteristics that have been inadvertently bred out of ordinary varieties – to produce crops with highly desirable traits,” explains Gil Shalev, CEO Equinom.
“Our proprietary computer algorithm and big data meet crop yield, quality and trait objectives in a way that no other seed-breeding company has done before, which also cuts time to market by years.”
The Equinom algorithm analyzes the genomic characteristics from its database of thousands of plants to determine the ideal breeding combination to achieve the desired properties.
The system evaluates millions of possible combinations to design optimized seeds that focus on protein, oil or nutrient content, seeds’ functionality, plant yield, disease resistance and other qualities.
Equinom then uses the conventional method to crossbreed the plants whose genetic codescomplement each other best to selectively optimizes varieties targeted to food producers’ needs, by creating an application-based solution.
Equinom also offers high-oil-content sesame that enables flexible cultivation options. Shatter-resistant sesame, one of Equinom’s flagship crops, can be harvested mechanically and grown around the world.
This allows farmers to grow locally to meet the rising demand for this customized oilseed, which produces some of the highest oil content in the industry and is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Equinom’s breeding expertise and approach are changing the market for plant-based food applications, such as meat alternatives.
The company is introducing high-protein legumes, such as soybeans, peas, chickpeas, cowpeas, mung beans, fava beans and quinoa. Soybeans and peas, for example, are key to meat alternatives.
Commenting on the investment Markus Solibieda, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital said; “This is our first investment in an Israeli company.
“Equinom’s technology is groundbreaking in the plant protein value chain and supports the rising trend towards meat alternatives.
“With this investment in Equinom, we are strongly boosting BASF’s strategy of optimizing crops and promoting sustainability and healthy food to nourish the planet.”