Green Transition: These nature-inspired startups

When science seeks to explore the mechanisms of nature… At the end of September, Inrae, the National Institute for Research in Agriculture, Food and the Environment, launched its first edition of Startup for Planet. The event aims to give visibility to its activity in terms of supporting young companies born from the work of its researchers and students. Since 1999, Inrae has supported 223 of these companies, of which 179 are still in operation. One of them, Ynsect, which produces insects on a large scale, raised US$ 372 million in 2020… The five start-ups that deposed are not at this stage, but they have already shown themselves in the economic field. They are involved in the field of agrotechnology (production), foodtech (food) and green technology (environment).

Some of these companies offer solutions that combine efficiency and the use of assets provided by nature. All strive to support the approaches of agriculture and food professionals who are moving in a more sustainable direction. This is the case of Mycophyto, spin-off of Inrae and UCA, Université Côte d’Azur, founded in 2017. The company specializes in soil biostimulation and revitalization. The beginning ? Leverage the natural synergies between plants and microscopic mycorrhizal fungi already present in the soil.

This increases yields and reduces the need for fertilizer. 🇧🇷Our agricultural production systems depend on inputs such as nitrogen, whose price is rising. It is about innovating taking inspiration from nature. We are here to accelerate this ecological transition“, explains Mathilde Clément, R&D manager at Mycophyto. The company already employs 18 people and its workforce is expected to increase to 25 next year. Thirty customers have already trusted her, with the first contracts abroad about to be signed.

Work the prawns, land on a starry table

In an approach comparable to that of Mycophyto, Agriodor offers biocontrol solutions against crop insect pests. The fifteen employees of the company, founded in 2019, create perfumes that repel insects, which makes it possible to replace insecticides. This offer is based on patents resulting from research carried out by the company’s founder, Ené Leppik. At Inrae, she studied the chemical mediators between insects and plants.

But it is shrimp that is at the heart of the solution proposed by Biomae. The company was co-founded by Guillaume Jubeaux, author of a thesis on the development of biomarkers of endocrine disruption in gammarus, a crustacean, in Inrae. His company specializes in monitoring the chemical and ecotoxicological quality of watercourses. Small shrimp, caged in the environment you want to observe, allow you to test the quality of the water.

The principle on which Hiphen is based is different. The company, founded in 2014, offers players in the agricultural world very precise information on the quality of their crop, which allows them to refine their management. Images captured by satellites, drones, sensors such as Airphen multispectral cameras, are then processed by artificial intelligence. The approach is of interest to seed producers, farmers, etc. And the company is currently setting up a system on presses at Moët et Chandon in Champagne to assess product quality in real time.

Yet another start-up, Les Nouveaux affineurs also has a prestigious customer: its refined plant-based products, made from cashew nuts, soy and organic herbs, are served at the star-studded table in the Ledoyen Pavilion in Paris. The technology used allows us to offer a productgood taste” and “with high nutritional value“says Nour Akbaraly, founder of the company. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) reports are clear: it is essential to increase the consumption of plant proteins to ensure a dietary transition. 🇧🇷

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