Israeli seed breeding startup Equinom announced today that it has closed a $10 million Series B round of funding led by BASF Venture Capital with participation from Roquette, Trendlines Group, and Equinom’s current investor, Fortissimo Capital. This brings the total funding raised by Equinom to $17.6 million.
Founded in 2012, Equinom uses cross-breeding technology to create seeds and legumes that grow faster, produce better yields, and have higher protein levels. Instead of relying on GMO’s or gene editing technology like CRISPR to produce their seeds, Equinom’s scientists use predictive algorithms to precisely breed plants to produce their ideal traits. The startup claims that their technology can produce new seeds in half the time as traditional breeding.
According to a press release from the company, Equinom currently supplies its specially bred sesame seeds to food producers across the globe. Equinom will start selling its next product — a high protein pea varietal — in 2021. With its new funding, the startup plans to expand its seed distribution globally and build out its team.
As the world’s population grows, so too does the need for highly-nutrition food that can be grown without totally depleting our planet. Paired with the burgeoning demand globally for plant-based protein, it’s no wonder that seed companies are trying to find the most efficient ways to grow high-protein plants like legumes and beans — the key ingredient in alternative meat and dairy products.
Many organizations turn to high-tech solutions like gene editing (including CRISPR) or GMO‘s to create their ideal seeds. Interestingly, Equinom is eschewing these in favor of more traditional breeding, albeit breeding augmented with data and algorithms to make it more efficient. Considering the serious challenges we’ll face feeding the world sustainably, this multi-pronged approach will hopefully pay off.