BASF Venture Capital GmbH, the corporate venture company of BASF Group, 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 and MBG Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg.
Computomics focuses in particular on predictive breeding technology for crops and has developed a cutting-edge 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. The parties agreed not to disclose the financial details of the investment.
Computomics’ advanced 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 disruptive 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.
“Our technology is unique in the market. Using it 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.
With the investment in Computomics, Amathaon and BVC contribute to advancing the multifaceted transformation of agriculture and support the European Union’s Green Deal. Crops that are resilient to climate change, have a significantly higher yield than traditionally bred varieties and thus require less arable land, or are resistant to pests, are an important building block for increasing the sustainability of agriculture. Such new varieties help to reach the European Green Deal’s goal of considerably reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides. With Computomics’ technology, these varieties can be commercialized with significantly improved resource efficiency.
“We were impressed by Computomics’ pioneering technology and innovative business model,” said Markus Solibieda, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital GmbH. He added: “The investment in Computomics is the latest in a number of our activities that support BASF’s strategy of fostering innovations to realize the Green Deal. These innovations also include technologies that contribute to producing affordable and sustainable food.”
“It is already apparent that climate change is leading to a geographical shift in arable land and crop varieties. One reason is that agricultural productivity becomes increasingly sensitive with rising temperatures,” said Borris Förster, Managing Director of Amathaon Capital. “Computomics has developed a key technology to bring high-performance varieties that will withstand future climatic conditions to the market faster and more economically.”
Computomics plans to use this investment to expand its global strategic and technical sales and marketing activities and to finance further research and development of its product portfolio. “We are happy to have Amathaon Capital and BASF Venture Capital on board, two investors with a wealth of experience and a synergistic approach in the AgTech sector. They will accompany us on our journey towards greater sustainability in agriculture and support us in expanding our activities,” said Schultheiss.