By Leonardo Gottems, correspondent reporter in Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 15th. This year 2019 marked the beginning of activities in Brazil by the American startup Indigo, which is considered by many to be one of the most valuable “unicorns” among agtechs worldwide. Founded in 2014 (under the name of Symbiota), Indigo is valued at US $ 3.5 billion and will start its operation in Brazil offering biological treatment of soybean seeds with microbes, according informations of Agropages.
It is only the first service to be offered in the country, since the startup already operates worldwide with several cutting-edge technologies. Among the solutions that Indigo offers in its portfolio are the development of farming, marketing platforms, contracts and logistics – all with blockchain technology.
The artificial intelligence platform first makes a reading of the soil and climate of the terrain to be planted and selects which are the most suitable microorganisms for the treatment of the seed inside a database with more than 70 thousand strains of DNAs sequenced – which they call “field probiotics.”
“We are only applying in agriculture many discoveries that have been made before. The biotechnology industry is advancing with the help of such innovations as lowering DNA sequencing, learning machines, and cloud computing, “said David Perry, Indigo’s chief executive.
The first target audience that Indigo is seeking in Brazil are the seedlings that market seeds for large producers. The payment system offered is barter, with the startup getting half of the additional production that results from biological seed treatment.
The contracts, however, will be closed with exclusive blockchain technology. This avoids the time consuming processes of the barter currently used in Brazil. The new form of payment will allow Indigo to attract investors from other areas, who are not accustomed to investing in agribusiness, rather than resorting only to the chemical industries or tradings.
Indigo also established a partnership with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company) and more than 200 private farms that have given way to testing grain and fiber in Brazil. Brazilian agtech Agrosmart will also be partner of the Americans providing satellite imaging and remote sensing.
Indigo’s new product development approach is one of the startup’s major differentiators. Instead of studying an active principle to apply to a product, the researchers identify which microorganisms are present in the best local soybeans and which are lacking in others with yield problems. From this analysis beneficial microorganisms are developed to be applied to the seeds.
“The great advantage of this method is that you can put something new on the market every year, at most every year and a half, instead of 10 to 12 years by the traditional method,” says Daniel Bachner, executive who led the implementation of Indigo in Brazil in the first year of the company’s arrival. Currently Bachner already integrates another agtech project – InstaAgro, the first platform for trade and delivery of inputs through the internet in the country.