Shaking up the plant-based industry
Israeli seed breeding startup Equinom, Ltd., raised $10 million in a financing round led by BASF Venture Capital, along with existing investors Fortissimo Capital, Roquette and Trendlines Group.
CEO Gil Shalev founded the company eight years ago. Recognizing the need to improve the food supply and make it more affordable, Shalev said he was inspired to feed the world nutritious, high protein food.
The company's non-GMO technology optimizes seed functionality to increase plant yield, higher nutritional value, disease resistance and more. With a focus on seeds and legumes, Equinom has been building a new “ecosystem” that directly connects food companies to the supply chain, aiming to provide more transparency and responsible sourcing of high-value plant protein.
Today, Equinom said they are transforming the food industry, strategically breeding non-GMO seeds with higher nutritional profiles and increased crop yields. Using data science and artificial intelligence software, Shalev said they strategically crossbreed plants to produce crops with highly desirable traits. He added that Equinom designs seeds exclusively for the food industry, which allows clients to choose specific varieties for their needs.
“This investment round has been highly successful and combines financial investors as well as strategic investors, as well as VCs from multiple regions around the world,” noted Shalev. “It will accelerate Equinom’s expansion globally and allow us to build talent and infrastructure to better serve our clients locally. Already, we have enjoyed phenomenal sales growth across four continents in 2019."
Green, clean seed machine
The FoodTech startup said that in just five years, Equinom has become the preferred supplier for sesame seeds by generating mechanically harvestable varieties. These seed stocks are now being grown worldwide, and they’re just getting started.
“We also plan to launch our high-protein pea variety in 2021,” said Shalev. “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.”
The startup has gained the attention of many in the plant-based-food industry, spurring several collaborations. One such partnership includes a multi-year contract with hummus giant Sabra, a New York-based subsidiary of Israeli food and beverage manufacturer Strauss Group.
Equinom said the recent $10 million investment represents market leaders’ trust in the company’s proprietary technology as well as its capabilities.