Joyance invests in companies that cultivate joy through science and tech to improve the way we live. So naturally, our recent investment in Amatera, a highly innovative company accelerating the natural evolution of plants, aligns perfectly with our thesis.
Our perennial crops are under serious threat from climate change and diseases, but it takes 20 years or more to improve these crops with conventional breeding — current genetic modification technologies have substantial limitations in the food and agriculture industry.
Amatera’s breakthrough platform, which they are first applying to coffee, drastically speeds up the crop growth and improvement process. This in-vitro breeding process consists of three steps. First, they accelerate the natural evolution of coffee directly at a cellular level, creating the world’s largest coffee variant library. Second, targeted sequencing screens the genome and determines promising variants. Third, in-vitro cross-breeding of the selected mutants produces the hybrid with the desired phenotype. This way, they speed up the screening and selection process and achieve their goal much faster without necessitating the time-consuming procedure of actually breed and grow the plants.
The inspiration for founding the company is deeply rooted in CEO Omar Dekkiche, who was raised in a farming family in France, and CTO Lucie Kriegshauser, who has extensive expertise in plant biology, specializing in secondary plant metabolism and genome engineering. Omar began his career in finance and evolved into biotech entrepreneurialism. Lucie, with both a postdoc from INRAE in genetic engineering and a PHD CNRS in molecular biology, is the perfect match for Omar’s financial skillset. The team is primarily working on two coffee varieties, a natural caffeine-free Arabica variety, and a tasty Robusta they’re calling “Robustica”, a climate-resistant variety competing with the Arabica cup quality. After coffee, they plan to expand to grapes and bananas.
Considering their impressive backgrounds and deep expertise combined with such highly innovative technology, we’re confident in Amatera’s ability to transform the future of the agricultural industry and are very much looking forward to starting the day with a delicious steaming cup of Amatera coffee and an ecologically clean conscience.
By Investment Partner Jun Deng