Viridian Seeds wins startup funding from Illumina
Viridian Seeds mission is to save the planet by creating Super-legumes. It is commercialising next-generation sustainable protein crops with novel traits to increase yield and reduce biotic and abiotic stress tolerances, while increasing protein and nutritional content for climate change mitigation, resilience, and food security which it calls Super Legumes. We are using next generation non-GM technologies, TILLING, CRISPR and a combination of the two methods says Dr Chatterjee. Viridian Seeds Inc. is one of the six start-ups across the globe to win seed investment and access to technology and expertise from Illumina Accelerator funding cycle. ‘We are very thrilled to be part of the Illumina accelerator in Cambridge as this gives us a tremendous opportunity to work with one of the best genomics company teams to develop a high-throughput method for allele discovery in crops using the latest Illumina machines, enabling a faster route to market, for the new next generation protein crops’ says Dr Chatterjee. Viridian Seeds is also selected to be part of the 2022 accelerator program of the Cambridge University Judge Business School.
The company is co-founded by Dr. Manash Chatterjee, and Jeet Dasgupta. Dr Chatterjee is a passionate entrepreneurial plant scientist with more than 25 years of experience in the Agri-Tech sector and has successfully worked on over 80 different crops and generated several mutant populations, novel traits and IP. One of his best achievements to date is the creation of the world’s first non-GM Papaya Ring Spot Virus (PRSV) resistance lines in a complex crop like Papaya for seed companies in India and Thailand which is protected by a US patent. Jeet Dasgupta, is a graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University and a qualified Chartered Accountant and Cost Management Accountant with experience in Nokia, Microsoft, ABB, and many start-ups.
Viridian Seeds, Inc. was incorporated on 29th November 2021 in the state of Delaware with an operating subsidiary in Ireland and subsequently another subsidiary in UK. Its planning to open another subsidiary in India for their Indian operations.
In order to boost its operations in India and globally, Viridian has tied up with Sresta Natural Bioproducts Ltd. based in Hyderabad; a pioneering farm to fork organic food company. Sresta has been formed with a vision of promoting sustainable livelihoods for farmers, providing pure and wholesome food for consumers and a sustainable ecology. The company works with over 35000 small holder farmers on about 200,000 acres across 12 states in India. Over 150 food products are sold under the brand name “24 Mantra” in India and over 35 countries in North America, Europe, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Far East. The products under 24 Mantra brand include Cereals, pulses, Edible oils, spices and condiments, snacks & confectionary, frozen food and specialty nutrition.
Dr. Chatterjee thinks that the formation of Viridian Seeds cannot have come at a better time since there is a crisis brewing in our current agricultural scenario. Unsustainable farming practices and production is the cause of mammoth Co2 emissions to the tune of 40 bn tonnes. On one hand we face an epidemic of obesity, while on the other, 2 billion people are undernourished. To add to the gravity of the situation, the world population growth is projected to be 10 billion by 2050. No region is on track to meet UN SDG goals on diets and food systems. A disaster in the making looms large. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new climate resilient varieties for a new paradigm to restore balance, maintain the planetary boundaries, and adhere to the 1.5 degrees Paris agreement. To be carbon-neutral by 2050 means eating plant-based food, which will come from protein-based crops and legumes.
As per Jeet Dasgupta, the products will benefit farmers, the environment, and customers. Optimization of land usage as well as increasing the productivity of water and fertilizers is the need of the hour. The shift to a plant-based protein diet from an animal-based one is already taking place around the world as more plant-based eateries and products are rapidly populating the market. However, at present plant-based products are highly processed products and do not necessarily address the issues of carbon emission and some may even add to it through their farming and production practices. Legumes are not only a source of balanced nutrition but also have green house gas emissions 250X lower than meat based diets. By modifying selected legumes to enhance certain traits, the mission is to introduce these super legumes into the mainstream dietary system. The time has come to revolutionize farming practices to be sustainable, green, and healthy.
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