Tohi Ventures partners with Brightseed for AI-based advances for Aronia

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Mindstyle / Getty Images
© Mindstyle / Getty Images

Related tags Aronia melanocarpa chokeberry A.I. Artificial intelligence phytonutrients

Missouri-based Tohi Ventures is partnering with AI-phytonutrient experts Brightseed for a pilot project to map Aronia’s plant compounds and micronutrients and identify its health impacts.

Shari Coulter Ford, CEO and Co-Founder of Tohi Ventures, which markets a clean-label, ready-to-drink product​ featuring Aronia berries, told NutraIngredients-USA that the agreement has been signed and the partners are in the early stages of defining the objectives for 2021, which, given that Tohi is an agile start-up, should hopefully be deliverable on a shorter timeline.

The first results from the Brightseed pilot project should be obtained early during the first half of 2021, said Ford, with the ability to use those learnings in product development in the second half of next year.

Ford added that the company is also partnering with the University of Connecticut (the EC Lee Lab), as well as having conversations with US-based ingredients companies. “These partnerships get us to where we want to be faster,”​ she said. “The vision is about building this platform for aronia.”


Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA last month, Dr Jim Flatt, co-founder and CEO, Brightseed explained that Brightseed has designed its Forager platform to, “gain a much deeper understanding of the compounds, what’s called the dark matter of nutrition: these 99% of compounds that have yet to be characterized. With that, we’re able to create a much broader library of compounds from which to make discoveries.

“We have a digital model of human health to make predictions, and this is where a lot of the artificial intelligence comes in to be able to make increasingly accurate predictions about the functions and benefits of these small molecules, these phytonutrients,”​ he added.

Brightseed has been in the headlines several times in 2020 with partnerships with Danone​ and Pharmavite​.


Aronia © gojak Getty Images
Image © gojak / Getty Images

Aronia is a member of the Rosaceae​ family native to eastern North America. It has also been naturalized in Europe.

The most studied form of chokeberry is Aronia melanocarpa​ (black chokeberries), but other forms of the berry exits, including Aronia arbutifolia​ (red chokeberries) and Aronia prunifolia​ (purple chokeberries).

The majority of the science supporting the potential health benefits of chokeberry relate to heart health (enhancing blood flow​, normalizing blood clots​, benefiting blood pressure​), but other reported benefits include anti-inflammatory effects, antioxidant activity, and immunomodulatory effects. A study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism​ also indicated potential for sports nutrition​ (2005, Vol. 15, pp. 48-58).

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