The Idea - to accelerate plant breeding for a more sustainable agriculture
The Plantik team recognised that gene editing and informatics techniques could be efficiently applied to plant breeding to rapidly and precisely create custom plant varieties with different desirable traits. The team choose to focus initially on hemp (legal cannabis) as it is a diverse multipurpose plant with additional applications beyond medicine and wellbeing that include a supply of sustainable, innovative, fibrous material and an excellent protein source.
Who is behind the idea?
Ying Shao, Co-founder and CEO and Aditya Nayak, Co-founder and CTO took part in the Seedbed Incubator programme. The idea behind Plantik was first sparked and further explored in conversations between Ying and Aditya when they attended the Deep Tech talent investor, Entrepreneur First in 2019 and it is based on techniques that Aditya had mastered during his PhD research.
How EIT Food’s Seedbed Incubator supported Plantik
Developing the company’s technology into a prototype and working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic was at times challenging for the Plantik team but coming through the EIT Global Food Venture programme first and then onto EIT Food’s Seedbed Incubator programme has helped them immensely.
The 2020 Seedbed Incubator programme started in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown, which meant that connecting with others was only possible through video conferencing and online virtual interactions. This approach proved invaluable for the Plantik team as they found they could readily exchange ideas with other European startups. Occasionally, when some of the teams felt isolated during these challenging times, they could also encourage each other to keep up their good work.
As part of the programme, the Seedbed 4-day Bootcamp provided exceptional coaching and captured the concept of how to build a business canvas. Previously, the Plantik team was unsure about how best to approach market validation in the multiple sectors that could utilise hemp. Taking part in Seedbed Incubator gave them the capabilities and provided a very clear structure on how to test their ideas with the market and aided them in carrying out their customer discovery journey across different sectors; as a result, they secured a number of valuable connections.
Prior to the Seedbed Incubator, the team prioritised finding customers in only a few European countries that had the most activities around hemp, but through Seedbed they learned that they could cast their net wider to other countries in Europe and territories beyond. The mentors themselves were very knowledgeable and approachable during the Seedbed programme and helped them to build connections with potential customers.
Support from Seedbed Incubator on protecting your idea
Seedbed Incubator’s Intellectual Property (IP) clinics and sessions were delivered by attorneys and proved to be timely for Plantik as the team was in the middle of negotiating a research collaboration agreement with a University. Since Plantik did not have the IP skills in-house they were able to obtain support from the Seedbed attorneys to finalise their contract with confidence and know that their IP was well protected.
“The Seedbed Incubator Programme gave us great insights into different markets and provided us with a very structured framework. It enabled us to deepen our market research and customer discovery journey and reach out and connect to more people in different sectors and segments that could potentially be our customers/use hemp. So for example, the plastics sector was a sector that we knew little about, but we now know that hemp could potentially be a very good material for bioplastics.” – Ying Shao, CEO
“We received great support from the coordinator to the business coaches and to the mentors. I think all the teams and the talents involved were of great help and they really have a vast experience and network in the food and Agri sector which really benefits an early stage startup like ours.” – Aditya Nayak, CTO.
“I think Seedbed creates a great network between the different startups at a similar stage of development to ours and we have this monthly check up together where we update each other on our progress. I think it creates this support system for everybody which is very precious, especially during COVID times and allows us to keep our vision moving.” – Ying Shao, CEO
Learn more about Plantik
- Plantik’s CEO Ying Shao recently participated in EIT Food’s Food Fight Podcast, on the episode “From seed to scale: the journey of an agrifood entrepreneur”. Listen to the full episode here
- Visit their website: https://www.plantik.bio/
- Follow Plantik on LinkedIn here
Learn more about EIT Food's Seedbed Incubator here