Venture capital firm Omnivore has launched a new initiative OmniX Bio, to back early stage agrifood life science start-ups. The programme will support Indian entrepreneurs who are working in agricultural biotechnology, novel farming systems, bioenergy and biomaterials, as well as innovative foods, including alternative protein.
Under its OmniX Bio initiative, Omnivore announced its first investment of an undisclosed sum in Pune-based BioPrime Agrisolutions, which is developing biological crop inputs that enhance yields without harming the environment or the health of farmers and consumers.
“We are excited to launch OmniX Bio to help reboot the agri-food life sciences ecosystem in India. Technological advances in this space can effectively solve some of the toughest challenges in Indian agriculture,” said Mark Kahn, Managing Partner, Omnivore.
“In BioPrime, we have a great example of an innovation designed to improve both human and planetary health. We hope to see more entrepreneurs like the BioPrime team step-up to the challenge and help change the course of Indian agriculture for the better,” Kahn said.
OmniX Bio will provide venture funding, mentorship from global agrifood life sciences leaders, institutional partnerships, and business development support to access domestic and export sales channels.
Founded in 2016, BioPrime has spent the past few years building SNIPR (Smart Nanomolecules Induced Physiological Response) and BIONEXUS. SNIPR is a discovery platform which identifies innate immunity or natural defence mechanisms in plants, curates unique traits, and delivers tailored crop input formulations. BIONEXUS is India's largest trait modifying, plant-associated microbe collection. Changes in the diversity of microbiota can confer plants acquired traits like drought tolerance, disease resistance, and enhanced yields, to name a few.
The first generation of BioPrime’s products are at an early commercialisation stage and the company is evaluating several pan-India distribution partnerships. The company also has several co-development partnerships with multinational companies.
“At BioPrime, we are focusing on discovering fundamental aspects of plant communication, identifying new biomolecules and new modes of modulating plant responses. SNIPR and BIONEXUS enable BioPrime to develop new biologicals and radically improve existing products at a fraction of cost and time. With Omnivore joining us in this journey we are confident of building BioPrime to be a global player in agri biotech and achieve our goal of a world where good yield is not a gamble but an assurance,” Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder and CEO of BioPrime, said,
Kahn further said that India’s progress in agrifood life sciences, despite being the third most active start-up ecosystem in the world, has stalled over the past two decades. Innovations in synthetic biology, chemistry, and biotechnology are critical for the future of Indian agriculture and food systems, which will soon bear the full brunt of climate change.
Agrifood life sciences can play a critical role in tackling both climate mitigation (reducing India’s GHG emissions) and climate adaptation (securing a future for India’s farmers), as well as other agricultural sustainability challenges, Kahn said.