NRGene, an AI based genomic company operating in the agricultural industry, and Top Seeds International Ltd., a global seed company wholly owned by Mitsui & Co., Ltd., have signed a collaboration agreement to develop and commercialize new and improved cherry tomato varieties.
Based on the agreement, NRGene will lead the research by applying its AI technology to accelerate and improve the accuracy of the breeding process, while Top Seeds will take responsibility for product development, marketing and commercialization.
The tomato is widely considered to be the most extensively cultivated vegetable crop worldwide. Its global seed market was recently evaluated at over US$1.1 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 6% between 2021-2026. The cherry tomato segment alone will grow at a higher rate than other tomato varieties.
In past years, tomato growers had to face the challenges of ever-growing demand for top quality tomatoes, new plant diseases, and the repercussions related to natural climate extremes and those compounded by climate change. By joining forces, the two companies can better tackle these issues through the development of new and improved varieties.
“Top Seeds is constantly investing in the development and commercialization of vegetable varieties with improved traits so that farmers can better adapt to challenges and, as a consequence, customers can enjoy better tasting and healthier vegetables”, said Alon Lerner, the Innovation and Collaboration lead in Top Seeds. “Developing new varieties takes years and requires large investments. We are at the technological forefront to discover important traits, optimize breeding processes, and shorten the time to market of new varieties. This collaboration allows us to apply NRGene’s advanced solutions to our proven genetics, enabling both our companies to lead the seed industry.”
Top Seeds International Ltd., wholly owned by the Mitsui Group – one of the largest corporate groups in the world – is a global vegetable seed company specializing in research, production and marketing of innovative, high-quality hybrid varieties.
NRGene estimates the investment in this project at US$400,000, while its market potential in the targeted regions was estimated at US$25 million in 2020. Following successful completion of the project, NRGene will be entitled to royalties of 35-70% from the sales (net of production and distribution costs) of the improved seeds and varieties, based on their genetic content. The first revenues from this project are expected in 2025.
“We are pleased to join Top Seeds in this partnership as it fulfills NRGene’s strategic decision to deepen our involvement in variety development and our presence in the seed industry value chain”, said Dr. Gil Ronen, NRGene’s CEO and founder. “Successful completion of this project will contribute significantly to the growth of NRGene and serve as additional proof of our technology to improve development processes and shorten the time by up to 50%.”