Ankur Capital
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Ankur Capital

Why we Invested in Piatrika

Global temperatures are reaching unprecedented highs. Our natural systems must contend with novel conditions that change more quickly than their pace of adaptation — but the reality is that they’re not keeping up. Global food supplies are in decline as droughts and floods impact agricultural output. Productivity of even our staple crops is under threat as low lying latitudes face the brunt of the effects of climate change. At the same time, there are pressures on yields to feed growing populations and deliver nutritional health while catering to consumer preferences. Our natural systems need a boost.

One of the tools that can aid climate adaptation and improve agricultural productivity is next generation seeds. Computational advances along with falling costs of genetic sequencing are playing a big role in seed research and production.

The $60 billion dollar seed market is ripe for disruption with precision breeding tools. Molecular breeding is expected to reach $15 billion dollars in the next 5 years. Today, most seed breeders follow a manual R&D process for the identification of novel seed varieties. The breeding systems are based on phenotypes (physically observable characteristics) which requires a long-winded process that can take 10–15 years from concept to commercialization. The introduction of gene editing tools such as CRISPR and CAS alongside advances in computing are changing how we identify new seeds and the time and cost to take them to market.

This is why we’re excited about Piatrika Biosystems.

Piatrika is a bioinformatics platform going a step deeper to assist seed manufacturers in the discovery, development and deployment of advanced seed varieties. The company runs computational biology algorithms on crop genotypes (genetic characteristics) and phenotypes to determine the hybridization of traits. Piatrika accelerates the seed discovery process by rapidly identifying desirable traits including those that can improve yield, boost resistance to disease and weather changing temperatures.

The company expects to reduce the overall product delivery timeline by 50% while simultaneously reducing costs by about the same. On top of available data sets, Piatrika will collate local data through sensors and weather information, enabling them to work in various micro-climates. For places like India, with an array of climatic zones, this type of localized data and delivery is essential. In the face of climate change, innovations like Piatrika’s are becoming necessary globally.

When we met Vasu and Phani, we were immediately impressed by the depth of their domain knowledge and commitment to challenging business as usual. Vasu comes with two decades of deep domain expertise in plant genomics and bioinformatics having worked at the European Bioinformatics Institute and KisanHub. Phani, on the other hand, comes with experience in managing the commercial front-end of delivering technology solutions. Together, they make a formidable team.

We look forward to working with Piatrika Biosystems to build tools for next generation seeds.

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Ankur Capital is an early stage fund investing in technologies for the next billion

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