How an economist at Olivos and three biotechnology experts from Tucumán found a company funded by millions of dollars from Silicon Valley with aspirations to boost soybean production in areas where some of the bacteria that appeared in Puna caused some Doesn’t grow too? the story of full bio This should be told step by step, because in just two years they managed to get their invention approved by Senasa, a special “Bacterial Juice” To strengthen soybeans, who will make them this year Invoice USD 500,000 And this allowed him to get investors for about $ 4 million.
The starting point was at Grid Exponential, a business accelerator headed by the former chairman of the YPF. martin galuccio, ,It is like a ‘Business Tinder’, which seeks to bring together scientific projects with entrepreneurs and integrate a team“, he explained Franco Martinez Lewiseconomist from Buenos Aires and CEO of the company he created in that example Alyssa Bertini, Carolina Balfour You Maria Eugenia FariasHer companions whom she defines as “scientists and adventurers”.
For example, Bertini spent four months in Antarctica “investigating the only plant that survived those conditions.” Belfiore and Farías visited Puna for several years to investigate bacteria more than 3,500 million years old to carry out their plan.
Belfiore and Farías visited Puna for several years to investigate bacteria more than 3,500 million years old to carry out their plan.
Three women from Tucumán approached for their project: a soybean seed treatment based on “extremophile” bacteria, that is, the conditions they live in. These bacteria were isolated in Puna de Catamarca, so Conicet and that province would receive royalties on the sale of the product, kunja sojaplants that give Tolerance conditions to drought, stress and salinity. They also allow between 10% and 15 percent increase in soybean yield.
The start of the company, in the midst of a pandemic, Zoom had six months, Only after that the friends could meet face to face. The “Tinder of Business” put the company together and gave them 200,000 USD to conduct the first 15 field trials in 7 provinces To test the ultimate purpose: to make the seed yield and, moreover, in places with the most unfavorable conditions.
With the first rehearsals, the second major stage arrived in October 2001. They were selected by Indie Bio, the world’s largest biotech startup accelerator, which has one of the strongest investment funds in Silicon Valley., There they closed a round of investment of USD 3.7 million. “With this money, we plan to increase our research, build a new laboratory in Tucumán, and conduct more field trials in Argentina, Brazil and the United States. We have already surveyed the Great Salt Lake in Utah , and they’ve called us from countries like Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia to study the extreme environments there,” Martinez Lewis explained.
Puna Bio is leading the way in testing biostimulant products for corn, wheat, beans, sugarcane and other crops
90% of soybean producers use some treatment to improve the yield of their seeds, but Martinez Lewis assures that “Kunja Soja, the world’s first ‘extremophile’ biostimulant, is unparalleled in the market.”, Its organic inputs allow growers to increase yields, reduce the use of fertilizers, and cultivate poor soils.
“Like a soccer player who trains at altitude and develops greater physical resistance, our microbes retain that extra growth-promoting potential. When we take them to more favorable conditions,” he assured.
in addition to the following kunja sojaPuna Bio is making progress in testing biostimulant products for maize, wheat, beans, sugarcane and other crops. “We are placing a lot of emphasis on corn and wheat, trying to improve not only yields, but working in Reduced use of chemical fertilizerswhich are responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture,” Bertini said.
And he accomplished: “We work, on the one hand, to be able to fix poor soils and provide sustainable solutions to growers, because we see a challenge in the world feeding as many people as possible but making better use of resources such as soil And at the same time, reducing carbon emissions.”
“Extremophiles are widely used in medicine for other applications such as: Covid-19 PCR test uses an enzyme from an extremist, Our great innovation is to use bacteria that tolerate drought, stress and salinity that we isolated from Puna for agricultural applications, to promote crops in both difficult conditions and fertile soils”, said Bertini.
his fellow economist (with a bachelor’s degree “at Wharton, the same university where he studied”) Mark Galperin, Franco Martinez Lewis, is filled with excitement and dreams that “bacterial juice” can grow soybeans also in patagonia, And he dreams big: “We already have field trials going on in several regions of the United States. In 5 years we can become a company like Bioceres and get listed on NASDAQWhy not?”.