Equinom, an Israeli startup, raised $10 million in a Series B round of funding from BASF Venture Capital, Roquette, Trendlines Group and Fortissimo Capital. The company focuses on non-GMO seed breeding technology to make “smarter seeds.”
Founded in 2012, Equinom focuses on non-GMO seed varieties that have super traits, such as better nutritional profiles. “Equinom’s breeding program designs super-trait seeds on demand. The system determines the varieties and breeding generations needed to obtain the plant seeds defined by food companies. Equinom then breeds the plants naturally and conducts global growing trials to confirm seed viability in multiple cultivation locations,” Equinom said.
The company works with the natural genetic variation among plants to create seeds that are more nutritious and that have higher oil and protein content. Equinom shares that it is already a preferred supplier of sesame seeds.
“We also plan to launch our high-protein pea variety in 2021. Equinom will continue working with plant-based food ingredients and food companies to help create tasty, ‘cleaner’ plant-based applications. We already have clients producing products with our smart grains, which provide higher quality, improved nutritional values and lower production costs,” Gil Shalev, CEO of Equinom, said.
Equinom’s technology optimizes non-GMO seeds to create higher yields, more nutritional value and resistance to disease. The company uses a combination of traditional crossbreeding and computational genetic algorithms to accomplish this. It has also accelerated seed breeding for faster production.
“Equinom is now pursuing two parallel breeding tracks. First, the company has developed high-yield, shatter-resistant sesame, and has become the world’s largest provider – with farms in the USA, Australia and Europe. Concurrently, Equinom is breeding super trait plant protein – sustainable, reliable and healthy legumes for alternative proteins, relying only on what nature has provided,” the company said.
Consumers’ concern about the long-term impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continues to grow, so alternatives are necessary. Food companies are responding to these concerns, and non-GMO seeds are one of the options more businesses are exploring.