Inari Agriculture in West Lafayette, a biotechnology company developing next-generation seeds, says it has secured $145 million since its founding less than four years ago. The company says it is using the funding to expand operations at its Seed Foundry at the Purdue Research Park. Julie Borlaug, vice president of external relations for Inari, says the expansion will include the addition of a third greenhouse in West Lafayette, as well as growing the company’s product development and research teams.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Borlaug said the company has seen “phenomenal growth” over the last four years.
“We really thought we’d have 60 employees by 2023 at Purdue and we’re already over that in 2020, so it’s exciting to see the growth,” said Borlaug. “I think what it really means is investors are looking for a breakthrough in agriculture – especially within the seed industry – and they’re looking for companies who are doing it differently and doing it collaboratively.”
The company develops gene-edited “parent seeds” to create more localized seeds for independent seed companies, which then sell the seeds to their farmers. Borlaug says oftentimes, farmers buy seeds that have traits that they don’t need.
“So a farmer in California might need drought-tolerant technology, but a farmer in Michigan does not. So our seeds will a little more localized for the independent seed companies to provide for their farmers. But all of that work goes on at our Seed Foundry.”
Borlaug says the idea stemmed from meeting with independent seed companies and farmers early on to find out what they need in their specific areas. She says the company aims to keep the science moving forward following the expansion.
“We expect to have edited crops available in 2022 and that means, for the farmers, it would be in the field for 2023 and those will be soybean and corn crops,” said Borlaug. “We’d like to have all the technology we have also work within other crops, work within horticulture and other areas. Our whole belief is our science will be applicable to more than just row crops and that’s kind of where our future would go.”
The Massachusetts-based company, which also has research operations in Belgium, opened the Seed Foundry in West Lafayette in 2018.
Borlaug says the company has seen “phenomenal growth” over the last four years.