Sep. 8, 2023
By Fiona Holland
Global speciality minerals company ICL Group is partnering with the artificial intelligence agritech start-up Agrematch to create new innovative plant nutrition biostimulants using AI.
Based in Israel, both companies will investigate how to use Agrematch’s AI platform – Artificial Intelligence for Active Ingredients (AI4AI) – to produce novel biostimulants and plant nutrition products that can maintain plant and soil health and boost crop quality, yield, and resilience.
ICL Growing Solutions, ICL Group’s agricultural branch, will work with the start-up to carry out the joint programme which is expected to last several years.
The AI4AI solution’s predictive algorithms can run through billions of molecules in a proprietary database to design novel compounds for products like fertilisers, stimulants, and crop protectants, and give them specific functionalities. Some functions the platform can adjust in compounds include their environmental impact, product mixture compatibility and toxicity profile.
To support the partnership, ICL led an investment round in Agrematch through its agrifood innovation and investment platform, Planet Startup Hub.
″ICL’s partnership with Agrematch brings the rapidly evolving application of AI into ICL’s agricultural development ecosystem,″ said Hadar Sutovsky, Vice President of External Innovation and General Manager of ICL Planet Startup Hub. ″Agrematch’s AI4AI prediction platform has the potential to streamline our compound discovery process, reduce the time and costs involved, and lead to the development of more effective and efficient crop solutions.″
There is a huge demand for new sustainable crop nutrition products in the agricultural sector, but current product development cycles are risky, expensive, and lengthy, says ICL, and a faster method for identifying new active ingredients for agricultural product development is essential.
″We are excited to partner with ICL and explore new solutions for plant nutrition,″ said Eyal Ben-Chanoch, CEO of Agrematch. ″Using data science, and especially AI, has helped us to dramatically alter the discovery process, by eliminating both its sequential nature and the barriers that make the classical high-throughput screening methods costly, risky and time consuming. Our AI4AI platform was designed and built to discover new functional compounds that meet defined specifications.″
″This collaboration will focus on developing novel biostimulants products that provide superior results for plants,″ added Elinor Erez, PhD, vice president of R&D for ICL Growing Solutions. ″It supports our strategy to continue investing in the ag-biologicals market, which we see as highly complementary to – and aligning with – our existing agriculture business and the future of our specialty crop nutrition portfolios. ICL brings a huge contribution to this strategic collaboration, as this promising start-up will enjoy access to the global crop nutrition market, regulatory insights, agronomical aspects, and development, along with best-in-class group of R&D scientists and agronomists. Following an extensive evaluation of Agrematch’s technological capabilities, we are excited to collaborate with them to deliver novel ag-biological products to the global market.″