By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science and Technology
Plant science has its challenges for startup companies developing new ideas and technologies. It may take specialized laboratory equipment, greenhouses and expertise that startups don’t yet have.
”What we have launched is a plant pipeline as a service. We help innovators solve big global problems,” said Mary Fernandes, PhD, co-founder and president of Solis Agrosciences, a growing St. Louis agtech startup. Microbiologist Mary Fernandes is a veteran in the agtech world who took the lead developing a novel idea supporting agriculture companies globally.
“They can rely on a company like Solis to do all of their discovery and development if needed,“ she said.
And Solis is playing a contributing role in the St. Louis agriculture space, providing some startup companies with the research and development they need to succeed.
“It’s like giving them big agricultural company capabilities even though they’re a small startup. What we really do is provide a one-stop shop for all of their research and development,” said Fernandes. “We can design plants, the new varieties of plants, we can develop plants and characterize those plants and provide the output as a product to these innovators.”
Solis Agrosciences is on the front line of a global issue – the effort to solve global food challenges.
“A lot of these innovators are trying to produce new varieties of plants or learn from plants. How can they be more climate resilient? How can they be more drought tolerant? How can they be more disease resistant? Solis is helping agtech startups with a range of products. High protein soy, soybean that has a higher protein content. It could be a company that’s trying to get medicinal products from plants.”
One local client is Edison Agrosciences, which is producing natural rubber from sunflower plants.
“Another company that’s local is Aferna, a company that’s looking to increase yield in plants. We have created some of those plant varieties for them,” Fernandes explained.
With the support of Solis co-founders and BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL in St. Louis, Fernandes helped position the one-of-a-kind company for tremendous growth and success. And her passion making this dream a reality, could have far-reaching benefits.
“All the companies that we’re helping, we hope will solve problems, whether it’s food insecurity, whether it’s access to medicines from plants or fuel from plants or fiber from plants. Our tools and technologies help innovators deploy their creativity.”