LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY — BASF Venture Capital GmbH (BVC), the venture arm of BASF Group, is investing in Computomics, a bioinformatics company based in Tubingen, Germany.
Computomics uses artificial intelligence for predictive crop breeding. The technology analyzes a plant’s genome together with local environmental data and provides customers with recommendations for developing higher-performing crops that adapt to changing climate. The technology also speeds up breeding.
“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,” Ludwigshafen-based BASF said. “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.”
With this information, Computomics’ technology simulates all possible crosses, considers the qualities of millions of potential progenies to optimize the selection process.
Sebastian J. Schultheiss, co-founder and managing director of Computomics, called the company’s technology unique to the market.
“Using it shortens the time-to-market for a new crop variety and also decreases land and water usage,” he said. “By using naturally available biodiversity, it represents a competitive alternative to genetic modification.”
Terms of the BASF investment were not disclosed. Participating in the investment round was Amathaon Capital, a venture capital firm based in Munich. Seed round investors were High-Tech Gründerfonds and MBG Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg.
BVC said the investment in Computomics represents a step toward actualizing the European Green Deal’s goal of reducing fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, crops resilient to climate change generate higher yields, require less arable land or are resistant to pests and help make agriculture more sustainable, BVC 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,” said Markus Solibieda, managing director of BVC. “These innovations also include technologies that contribute to producing affordable and sustainable food.”
The investment by BVC and Amathaon will be used to build out Computomics sales and marketing capabilities and to finance further research and development.