Seed World

Companies to Watch: From the Start-Up Arena at World Agri-Tech

Here are some of the World Agri-Tech start-ups that caught our eye:

In addition to an extensive line-up of presentations, panel discussions and working groups, this year’s World Agri-Tech Innovation Forum, held in San Francisco March 19 and 20, featured 60 start-ups and early-stage ag-tech companies pitching their ag innovation concepts. The pitches featured technologies oriented to all aspects of agriculture from administration to agronomy to processing. The following are seed-related standouts:


Alora calls itself “the ocean agriculture company” and is aiming to grow rice in the ocean

Alora aims to create a sustainable future of food via the world’s first ocean agriculture system. “We are solving world hunger with this revolutionary technology set to increase yields, use zero freshwater, and minimal land,” Rory Hornby, Alora’s CSO explained in the company’s World Agri-Tech pitch.

Alora earned a place on the world-renowned accelerator, IndieBio, in San Francisco in 2019. After six months honing the foundations of Alora under its former name, Agrisea, the Alora team moved its research operations to Velocity, Canada. There, they focused on developing oceanic salt-tolerant rice, marine farms, and a stealth bacterial technology with the target of launching its first ocean farm plot in Singapore. After four fruitful years in Canada, the Alora team has set up their R&D headquarters and lab at Norwich Research Park in the UK.

CEO & Co-Founder: Luke Young
Headquarters: Norwich, UK
Founded: 2019
Number of employees: 5
Raised so far: $3.7m
Backed by: Toyota Ventures, The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, SOSV (IndieBio SF, Batch 9), Mistletoe, Jude Gomila
Looking to engage with: Investors, seed distributors or developers, members of the seed pipeline.


BioSun Solutions

BioSun Solutions is a genomic extraction company that manufactures next-generation plant-based biostimulants and biofungicides using nanotechnology to induce elicitors that stimulate more than 30 genomes.

BioSun Solutions is a privately held company dedicated to driving innovation in the organic agriculture industry. Its primary focus lies in delivering high-quality agricultural products that not only provide a substantial return on investment for farmers but are also environmentally friendly, sustainable, and efficient. To dae, they have launched three products designed for both domestic and large-scale industrial operations.

Founded: 2019
Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Raised so far: $5.5M
Backed by: Investors, McGill University, University of Montréal, ICARDA Liban, INREA Avignon -Bordeau and Angers, INRS, Government of Canada


Calice Biotech

Calice Biotech harnesses the power of data to assist breeders in accelerating crop development. The company’s approach integrates proprietary AI and data science technologies with the aim of revolutionizing agriculture.

Calice Biotech utilizes computational breeding technologies through its AI and deep learning-based platform, NODES, to introduce new varieties to the market up to 50% faster than conventional breeding methods.

“We collaborate with seed companies seeking to enhance their crop genetics in less time and at lower costs. Our comprehensive technologies not only benefit their business but also have a positive impact on the environment,” the Calice team explained in their World Agri-Tech pitch.

CEO: Ramiro Olivera
Offices in: Buenos Aires, Argentina I San Francisco, USA
Founded: 2022
Number of employees: 16
Raised so far: $1M USD
Looking to engage with: Seed companies, private investors and VC firms



GeneNeer is an Israeli agri-tech start-up developing an agile method of gene editing for smart, fast crop breeding.

GeneNeer’s breakthrough technology uses an RNA regulatory element to make the propagation and cultivation of crops more efficient, predictive and productive, while protecting global sustainability and ensuring food security and safety.

GeneNeer’s “technology allows precise control over the entire gene-editing process – making it faster, safer and widely accessible to both Tier-1 and Tier-2 crop seed companies,” explained the GeneNeer team in their World Agri-Tech pitch. “GeneNeer generates gene-editing Superlines, incorporating its proprietary technology within tissue cultures of leading crop variants.”

GeneNeer’s first focus is the potato market. It is currently collaborating with a tier-1 company on a major crop line and recently became affiliated with StartLife’s program for promising startups, based at Wageningen University, a globally-renowned potato research center.

CEO & Co-Founder: Kinneret Shefer
Headquarters: Shoham, Israel
Founded: 2016


Genvor Incorporated

Genvor Incorporated (GNVR) is a developer of sustainable plant health solutions, with a portfolio of patented peptides to provide crops with anti-pathogen and enhanced nutritional properties through next-generation biological foliar application as well as transgenic seed traits.

As the Genvor team explained in its pitch at World Agri-Tech, Antimicrobial Peptides (AMPs) are a diverse class of naturally occurring molecules innately produced as a first line of defense by all multicellular organisms, though plant peptides lack the ability to adapt and thus are often not sufficient for pathogen protection. “Genvor leverages these building blocks, improving upon nature by custom-tailoring peptides to address specific issues, even to the extent of using Nutrient Enhancing Peptides (NEPs) to enhance the nutritional profile of a crop… Genvor’s patented peptides are designed to be applied easily and efficiently via Biochemical Spray, or Seed Traits when more efficient. Genes that encode peptides are introduced into plant seeds, and the peptides are produced naturally by the plant.”

Supported by globally renowned scientists and a USDA partnership, Genvor leverages its licensing-first business model with active trait developments underway for a variety of crops including corn, citrus, rice, cotton, soybean, flax, and potato.

CEO: Chad Pawlak
Headquarters: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Founded: 2018



GRA & GREEN offers a proprietary gene-editing technology to enhance crops in a way that was previously unavailable for various crops and vegetable varieties.

GRA & GREEN’s goal is to create future crops that respond to drastic environmental changes through rapid breeding technology

Specifically, the company aims to minimize the inputs necessary to grow crops through various approaches, such as improving plants’ fertilizer utilization and making them resistant to diseases or environmental stresses.

CEO: Masaki Niwa
Headquarters: Nagoya, Japan
Founded: 2017
Number of employees: 30
Raised so far: Over 5 million USD, which includes pre-seed, seed, and series A rounds.
Backed by: Venture capital, Insurance company, banks, angel investors, government funding.
Looking to engage with: Companies that want to develop innovative crops and are interested in establishing a business partnership.


Ohmic Biosciences

Ohmic Biosciences combines protein engineering and synthetic biology to develop durable disease resistance traits that directly block plant disease progression.

“Unlike currently available traits – which are quickly overcome by pathogen mutations – our traits are specifically designed to be difficult for pathogens to evolve around,” said the Ohmic Biosciences team in their World Agri-Tech pitch.

Ohmic Bioscience’s first target is soybean cyst nematode, a parasite that causes over $1.5B of yearly damage in the US alone.

Co-Founder & CEO: PJ Steiner
Founded: 2021
Headquarters: San Francisco, California