We were pleased to recently be selected to take part in the Plug and Play AgTech Accelerator, and it was a great opportunity to explore the North American market, look at how our innovative mycorrhizae could be of benefit, find out how growers their perceive new AgTech innovations, and make some great connections.
During the program, we were delighted to be featured in a special edition of Future Farmers Magazine. Take a look at page number 52 (54 on the page slider) to find out more about us, how we got started, and how the accelerator was of benefit to us: https://issuu.com/fmspotlight/docs/ff_novdec20_1
“…with our strong scientific foundation, we knew that we could harness some of the more complex parts of the biology of the microbes to allow them to be able to be used in an entirely new way – customising them to pair with specific crops to give reliable and consistent performance and tailoring them to improve specific traits of plant growth to solve the most important production problem in each one.”
Take a look at this feature in the Fresh Produce Journal to learn about how MycoNourish takes advantage of our strong foundation in scientific research to use mycorrhizal fungi in exciting new ways.
Although we work with the same organism as other companies, our advanced approach allows us to tap into the more complex parts of the biology of mycorrhizal fungi. This gives us the ability to create highly targeted and reliable solutions, which focus on improving specific traits of plant growth and crop production – improving margins for growers, and increasing sustainability.
“MycoNourish is not just focusing on nutrient uptake though, and has promised to look at the “more interesting and unusual” capabilities of mycorrhizal fungi in strawberries and tomatoes, which are already grown in ideal conditions. That includes their ability to switch genes on and off, alter the plant’s defensive ability and improve pollination and reproductivity.”
“There are countless microbes that have both positive and negative effects on plant growth. Ensuring that crops are paired with the best ones offers a novel way of improving yields, and over 85% of the world’s crop species could benefit from our technology”
MycoNourish, an ambitious new biotechnology company and spin-out of the James Hutton Institute, announced today the completion of a £150K funding round led by Techstart Ventures. The funding, combined with a recent £125K Higgs Award from Scottish EDGE, will allow the company to grow the business and release their first two products targeted at enhancing yield and quality in strawberry and tomato crops.
The start-up’s innovative technology aims to sustainably improve crop production by taking advantage of microbes that work in symbiosis with crops. This is done with the assistance of beneficial fungi, known as ‘mycorrhizae’, which act as a secondary root system for plants, and work with crops to enhance yields. Using these beneficial organisms adds value for growers by increasing their margins and supporting them to be globally competitive.
With increasing pressures on the agricultural industry, ranging from changes in regulations and products no longer being available to labour shortages, it is vital for growers to maximise the amount of their produce that meets the highest grade. An average of 10% of strawberry production goes to waste as it doesn’t meet the quality standards required for retail – and MycoNourish harnesses the power of beneficial microbes to tackle these issues. €143bn is lost by growers to wastage each year across Europe, and technology such as this will form an important part of a toolset of sustainable improvements to tackle food wastage at the primary production stage, and improve food security.
MycoNourish founder Dr Peter Orrell said: “There are countless microbes that have both positive and negative effects on plant growth. Ensuring that crops are paired with the best ones offers a novel way of improving yields, and over 85% of the world’s crop species could benefit from our technology.
“We are delighted to have recently completed this investment round, which will enable us to bring our first two products to market. We found the pragmatic approach of our investors to align well with our company, and we look forward to working with them to commercialise this exciting opportunity.”
Techstart Ventures specialises in seed investment for ambitious early-stage companies based in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Investment Director, Robert Richmond, commented: “MycoNourish seeks to exploit the team’s extensive research and understanding in mycorrhizal fungi. Complementing the company’s innovative approach, we were also impressed with Peter’s clear vision on route to market in conjunction with the potential global reach for the company’s products. We also recognise the ongoing support that the James Hutton Institute and James Hutton Limited provide to Peter and the MycoNourish team.”
Notes to editors:
MycoNourish Limited is an ambitious new biotechnology spin-out company established in 2018 with technology developed at the world-leading James Hutton Institute and its commercial subsidiary, James Hutton Limited. MycoNourish harnesses the power of microbes to enhance crop production and add value for growers. They tailor beneficial fungi to suit specific crops and conditions using scientifically proven research and advanced technology, reliably producing stronger plants every time. www.MycoNourish.com
James Hutton Limited is the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, providing a comprehensive range of analytical, research and development, breeding, and consultancy services to global customers and collaborators. www.huttonltd.com
Techstart Ventures is a leading investor of seed capital across Scotland and Northern Ireland. We are a trusted partner to ambitious founders on their journey to success. In Scotland, Techstart Ventures LLP manages the Scottish Growth Scheme – Techstart Ventures Equity Finance LP Fund which has been financed by support from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund from the 2014-20 European Structural Funds Programme in Scotland. www.techstart.vc
“There are millions of different microbes in the world – some are good and some are bad – and they can have an impact on how crops grow. Many of these are found in soil. We specialise in “mycorrhizal fungi”, which act as a secondary root system for plants. The products out there at the moment are often one size fits all solutions, which have unpredictable effects on crops – they can either help plants or drain them of energy. We have developed a way of customising microbial strains, which allows us to tailor them for specific crops and target a range of plant growth traits. It gives consistent results and is reliable.
Most existing products are a blend of several mycorrhizal fungi, which means their effect on crops are less predictable and vary in performance from one year to the next. It’s a one size fits all solution. Our products are advanced high-performance strains,
which have been tailored to suit specific crops. We’re taking what already happens in nature and refining the process for the highest benefit.“
“DrPeter Orrell and the MycoNourish team have created a new, ground-breaking way of customising strains of beneficial fungi to improve plant health and crop production. Their innovative approach enables the fungi to be tailored to suit specific crops and solve specific problems, creating customised high-performance (CHP) strains that are designed to match specific crops. This presents an exciting opportunity for crop production, because whilst mycorrhizal fungi have great potential in improving crop yield, their current broad non-specific use leads to unpredictable and sometimes negative effects on crop production. In commercial agriculture, it is vital for growers to maximise yields, because a significant portion of produce does not meet the highest quality standards, resulting in substantial losses in revenue. In an industry that faces challenges such as rising costs, increasing regulations, water use restrictions and unpredictable weather conditions, the use of agents that can optimise yield from crops is critical. MycoNourish are at the cutting edge of the emerging agritech sector that customises microbes to maximise their performance. Peter Orrell’s team are producing novel, high-performing strains of mycorrhizal fungi that are tailored to specific crops, eliminating the problem of unpredictable and negative outcomes. Their combination of innovations enables MycoNourish to fulfil the market need by providing a product that has reliable and consistent performance in each crop, allowing these beneficial fungi to be refined to suit a wide range of crops in large scale agriculture. The solutions that they provide allows growers to increase produce quality, improve revenues and prevent food wastage.”
A big thanks also goes out to Maryanne Johnston, who’s support helped us to win the Converge ‘Ready Steady Pitch’ event earlier in the year.
“I am so excited and proud to have been chosen as the winner from the 30 Converge Challenge pitches. The training and support we received in the three days leading up to Ready Steady Pitch was immense. The confidence and abilities of everyone who participated has grown enormously and I am looking forward to applying these skills not just throughout the rest of the competition but beyond.” – Peter Orrell, following the elevator pitch competition.