seedalive, a pioneering agTech startup from RootCamp Batch #4, has harnessed the power of technology and biology to revolutionize seed quality testing. Based in Osnabrück, Germany, the startup has developed a new, efficient, and reproducible method to predict the germination of plant seeds. seedalive founder Jens Varnskühler shares insights about the product and vision in this interview.
What specific challenges or gaps in the industry led you to create this innovative solution?
The inception of this innovative solution was driven by a fundamental research project at the University of Osnabrück. The primary motivation was to address a practical question: Are these seeds dead or alive? This question was rooted in the need to reliably assess seed viability, a critical factor for successful agriculture and crop production.
The traditional methods for determining seed viability were time-consuming, taking 7–14 days to yield results. This delay posed challenges for seed producers and agricultural industries that required swift decisions. Recognizing this gap, I as a former student of the inventor Prof. Klaus Mummenhoff, seized the economic potential of the solution.
Could you elaborate on the scientific principles or technologies that enable seedalive's test to provide accurate and reliable results within just four hours?
seedAlive's rapid seed quality test employs a dynamic bioassay method, using a special solution with a red-ox dye, microorganism, and detergent. This solution triggers metabolic responses in seeds, causing a color change in the dye. After four hours, a mobile photometer, a device that measures light intensity—quantifies the color change. Machine learning interprets this data based on patterns from known seed qualities. This streamlined process replaces the traditional 7-14 day germination tests, providing quick and reliable results for seed quality assessment.
How does the seedalive app enhance the user experience and facilitate the on-site testing process?
Our app significantly enhances the user experience and streamlines the on-site testing process. It achieves this through a combination of user-friendly features designed to ensure a smooth and efficient testing experience.
The app serves as a comprehensive guide, offering multilingual step-by-step instructions that lead users through the entire testing process. To further aid understanding, explanatory videos are seamlessly integrated, providing visual demonstrations for each step of the procedure.
One standout feature is the app's management of the photometer, a key component of the seedalive test. The app takes complete control of the photometer, simplifying its operation. This aspect is particularly valuable for those who are new to laboratory procedures, making the application of our test-kits accessible and straightforward even for individuals with limited lab experience.
In essence, our app acts as a knowledgeable companion, enabling users to conduct tests confidently and accurately. By providing clear instructions, visual aids, and user-friendly photometer management, the app enhances the entire testing process, making seed quality assessment efficient, convenient, and suitable for a wider range of users.
What kind of feedback or response have you received from the seed industry so far regarding seedalive's test and its potential benefits?
The response from the seed industry to seedalive's test has been great. Our commitment to transparency and confidence in the solution has led us to invest considerable effort in offering free try & trust trials directly at the customers' sites. This hands-on experience has been pivotal in dispelling skepticism and showcasing the tangible advantages of our solution. The global seed industry has been quick to recognize the transformative potential of our test, particularly considering its efficiency and accuracy.
The recent adverse weather conditions experienced in Germany provided a real-world context that underscored the value of the test. By reducing testing time by an astounding 99%, our solution proved its efficacy, particularly during crucial periods like harvest time when rapid decisions are needed.
Looking ahead, what are your future plans and ambitions for your startup?
We are diligently developing machine-learning models for each plant species, which drives our ongoing effort to consistently expand our crop portfolio. This expansion widens our potential customer base. Simultaneously, we are focused on enhancing usability while minimizing the technology's input requirements and physical footprint. We are excited about the upcoming developments that will further elevate our solution's capabilities.
Currently, our traction is concentrated in Europe, but our goal is rapid global scalability. We plan to establish production and service stations in key markets worldwide to facilitate seamless accessibility and support for our technology.
Ultimately, our vision is to establish ourselves as the new gold standard for seed quality testing on a global scale. This aspiration drives our pursuit of excellence and underscores our dedication to revolutionizing the seed industry. There are some very exciting things yet to come!
Why did you choose the RootCamp startup program?
We applied for the RootCamp accelerator program due to its exceptional reputation for high quality. The program's compelling partners and the extensive network associated with RootCamp further heightened our interest. We recognized that participating in RootCamp could provide us with invaluable resources and connections to propel our startup forward.
The RootCamp Demo Day in Hanover is just around the corner on August 30th. This is your chance to meet the founder, Jens, from seedalive and learn more about our innovative seed quality testing solution. Don't miss out – register now to secure your spot.