We Band of Brothers: Crisp, CRISPR, Crispin’s Day and the Democratization of Crop R&D
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) … The nature of collaboration across the advanced bioeconomy is shifting dramatically – and we are seeing the democratization of R&D. … The CRISPR revolution
As Dan Watkins of DFJ’s Mercury Fund put it, “There’s a total sea change in biology with CRISPR-CAS gene editing coming on less expensively, and we’ve got next-gen sequencing and the costs of the cloud coming down fast. It’s not that different from the IT world where now everyone ha a supercomputer in their pocket.”
Today, we’ll look at the Cloud, and cloud biology. Benson Hill BioSystems is one of the companies at the heart of it.
The new Cloud, however, is more than that. It is a world where data is not only stored, or worked on by a defined team, but where algorithms will allow us to manipulate data faster, use advanced analytic or data-gathering tools, and even learn from one data set in order to draw conclusions faster from a second data set. Machine learning and application sharing.
At the heart of Benson Hill is CropOS, a cognitive engine that integrates crop data and analytics with the biological expertise and experience of the scientists of Benson Hill and its partners.
CropOS is continuously advancing, always learning from our partners’ challenges and delivering insights that accelerate their R&D programs. It improves with every new dataset and milestone achieved, strengthening the system’s predictive power.
With CropOS, partners can:
• Assess the genetic resources of their populations with the power of CropOS, establishing a roadmap to accelerate crop improvement.
• Design CropOS solutions to provide actionable decision support and unlock the potential of a broad range of genetic resources.
• Deliver crop improvements using a spectrum of breeding and genetic modification approaches that our partners choose.
A no-brainer to raise the capital to advance this technology class into agriculture? Hardly.
“It was really a struggle to raise capital,” (Benson CEO Matt) Crisp recalls. “It’s more west coast money than pure ag plays, and companies like the ag vertical but stay close to home. So they go for precision ag and sensors and Big Data imagery and phenotyping. … ”
It’s not only the empowerment of companies and researchers. Think about crops. About biodiversity itself. Corn and soybeans — huge R&D engines behind them,. But what about jute and hyacinth and pongamia and a host of crops that few have ever heard of. Crops that haven’t received or thought to deserve investment in R&D, can now have access to computation and genetics. It levels the playing field for the guy in rural India that he will have access to the same tools as they have in Des Moines, or anywhere.
Broadly speaking, the platform that is being constructed is generally going to be known as Cloud Biology rather than Cloud Computing. The concepts are not all that new, in fact; they’re used every day in the world of the digital economy. Pharma has been using it. READ MORE