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German agtech investors focus on bioinformatics

"Our technology shortens the time-to-market for new crop variety"

BASF Venture Capital and Amathaon Capital, a venture capital company specializing in AgTech, are investing in the Tübingen-based bioinformatics company Computomics. Existing shareholders include the seed investors High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and MBG Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg (MBG). The parties agreed not to disclose the financial details of the investment. 

Computomics focuses in particular on predictive breeding technology for crops and has developed artificial intelligence (AI). The technology analyzes the plant’s genome as well as other factors such as local environmental data. Computomics can thus provide its customers with recommendations for the development of higher-performing crops adapted to future climates and speed up breeding. 

Computomics’ technology enables plant breeders to make a data-based preselection to identify candidates with the greatest yield potential for each environment and each region. The technology combines traditional plant breeding processes with an extensive set of additional variables, such as the climate and future regional climate change, the soil microbiome, genetic diversity, and agricultural practices, in order to fully capture the plant’s environment and its genetics. Taking into account all of this information, it simulates all possible crosses, explores the performance of millions of potential offspring, and then chooses the most promising ones.

“Using our technology shortens the time-to-market for a new crop variety and also decreases land and water usage. By using naturally available biodiversity, it represents a competitive alternative to genetic modification,” explains Dr. Sebastian J. Schultheiss, co-founder and Managing Director of Computomics.

“The investment in Computomics is the latest in a number of our activities that support BASF’s strategy to realize the Green Deal. This strategy also includes technologies that contribute to producing affordable and sustainable food,” said Markus Solibieda, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital GmbH. 

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