Introducing the First CoLaborator Start-Up, Biome Makers
On March 22, 2018, the CoLaborator officially opened in our West Sacramento, California facility. This event brought together ag innovation enthusiasts from many different industries including universities, government, venture capital, media, and science. During this time, I spoke with four participants on the importance of collaboration and innovation in agriculture, which led to this blog series.
After first speaking with John Selep of AgStart, I spoke with Adrián Ferrero, CEO of agtech start-up Biome Makers. Adrián’s start-up is the first agtech start-up that will occupy the new CoLaborator space in West Sacramento.
Tell us about what you do and why you are excited to be in the CoLaborator space.
Adrián: I am the CEO of Biome Makers, an agtech start-up focused on microbial biodiversity that shows how microbes impact us and agriculture. Specifically, we work in agriculture because we believe that’s where life begins.
For us, the CoLaborator space is a great opportunity to expand our operation as we have been experiencing growth in the demand for our services. Moving to the CoLaborator gives us a better and bigger space, as well as involvement with Bayer. On top of that, we’re very close to UC Davis which is helpful in attracting talent because as we grow we will need more people on the team.
Your company has a primary focus on the microbes of wine grapes, how do you hope to expand to other crops?
Adrián: We decided to start in the wine industry because has a huge market and in wine there is a biodiverse community of microbes to learn from. The technology we developed is able to identify, quantify, and understand the community of microbes in wine grapes. Now that we have proved that our technology is effective, it’s very easy to expand to other crops.
You mentioned that you’re going to tell farmers more about their soil. Can you explain the benefits farmers are going to see from some of this research?
Adrián: First we tell farmers something that impacts them directly, such as the risk of having disease and recommendations on treatments that they can use for said diseases. These recommendations are based on the farming practices they use; it could be conventional, organic, or biodynamic. The next layer of information that we provide is the microbial biodiversity of their soil. We present that information based on functional groups of microbes. It is very interesting for our clients to know the impact of their farming practices. Imagine that you are an organic farmer doing a specific action, but the action could be damaging your soil. You would want to know that. Or if your crop has a high risk of having a disease, and you have been using a product that is not fighting the disease, you are creating a new problem in the soil. You want to know which specific product you want to reduce the use of. That’s something you can see looking at microbial biodiversity.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this innovation series, where we’ll hear the thoughts of Associate Vice Chancellor of Technology Management Corporate Relations at UC Davis, Dushyant Pathak.