InnerPlant Raises $5.65 Million Seed Financing

SAN FRANCISCOInnerPlant, a company pioneering the development of living plant sensors, has raised $5.65 million seed + pre-seed funding led by MS&AD Ventures, the investment arm of the Japanese insurance titan MS&AD Insurance Group, with participation from Bee PartnersUp West, and TAU Ventures. The investment opens the way to developing new products using data directly from plants for crop risk management and food supply chains.

Farmers around the world are facing unprecedented challenges from radical climate change while simultaneously struggling to produce more food for a growing global population. Current farming techniques cannot handle these challenges and farmers are resorting to prophylactic pesticide use. Consequently, crop yields become more unpredictable, taxing the value chain, and service providers like insurers who provide risk mitigation for farmers and the entire food supply chain.

“The rapidly changing conditions facing the farming industry create a risk environment that is hard to track,” explains Jon Soberg, MS&AD Ventures’ Managing Partner. “InnerPlant’s unique living sensors and associated data platform provide a unique solution that allows farmers to use land more fruitfully and this aligns with our mission to build a sustainable future. We believe that the insights from InnerPlant will help us to better manage the entire food supply chain.”

InnerPlant was founded in 2018 with the vision of revolutionizing farming for a growing planet by developing genetically adapted living sensors that help farmers grow plants more sustainably, cutting their reliance on pesticides and fertilizer.

Farmers routinely see up to 20% of their harvests destroyed by pathogens that could have been controlled with earlier detection and more responsive, plant-specific interventions. InnerPlant’s approach to collecting data directly from plants and its use of advanced algorithms to process the data provides plant-by-plant status that’s impractical using external sensors.

“Enabling crops to express their needs finally brings the data revolution to the farmer’s field in a way that fits with how they’re already working,” says Shely Aronov, CEO and founder of InnerPlant. “Rather than installing hardware across fields, farmers continue planting crops the way they always have and our platform pulls data directly from individual plants to provide farmers with insight into stresses so resources like pesticides and fertilizers are used only when needed.”

InnerPlant delivers this unprecedented flow of data by tapping plants’ natural defenses. Plants have evolved sophisticated defense mechanisms to protect themselves from environmental stresses. InnerPlant piggybacks on these signals by adding a safe protein, long studied for human consumption, to plants’ capabilities. When plants are thirsty, short of nutrients, or under attack by pests or fungi, they generate different optical signals that can be seen in daylight using common optical filters on devices ranging from an iPhone or tractor to a satellite.

The company introduced its first product, the InnerTomato, in 2020 and is currently developing additional crops including InnerSoy.