KWS and StartLife Partner Up to Spur Plant Breeding and Seed Business Innovation with Startups

Wageningen, 25 September, 2023

KWS has joined forces with StartLife, Europe’s longest-running accelerator for agrifoodtech startups, to advance its innovation approach and collaborate with startups. Together, KWS and StartLife will help mission-driven entrepreneurs grow their businesses and co-develop sustainable agrifood systems.

The agriculture business is facing many challenges, ranging from climate change, an increase in food demand, to political requirements. KWS and StartLife believe that plant breeding innovation plays a pivotal role in solving these agricultural challenges felt across the world. Both organizations also believe that partnerships are key to development and the adoption of innovative approaches to improve plant breeding, agriculture methods, and sustainable farming practices.

Open innovation gateway

To accelerate progress, KWS adopts an open innovation approach and proactively seeks collaboration with startups that offer (potential) breakthrough technologies. KWS already actively works with early and later-stage startups in various ways, including joint proof of concept projects, strategic collaborations, licensing agreements, joint ventures, and minority participations. The partnership provides KWS a gateway to StartLife’s global agrifoodtech startup community.

“Through this partnership, we want to gain better access to highly relevant startups, connect with the groundbreaking innovation within the StartLife ecosystem and raise more awareness on our open innovation approach. The headquarters of KWS vegetable business is based on Wageningen Campus and operates from the same building as StartLife. Therefore, it is a logical next step to also engage in the venture scouting activities of StartLife to open our doors for startups,” explains Alexander Wiegelmann, Head of New Business Ventures at KWS.

Call for technology and business development

StartLife believes KWS through its systematic review processes is well positioned to realize startup opportunities and can provide startups with constructive feedback and guidance to find the right product market fit.

“We are delighted to see KWS already showing dedication to supporting and working with startups. They have much to offer to our startups, including field trial facilities, laboratories, technology challenges and the opportunity to offer services directly to a broad customer base of KWS via its digital platform, myKWS.” comments Annelies Schenk, Manager Innovation & Partnerships at StartLife. “Together, we can truly accelerate the growth of startups and create positive impact.”

StartLife will support KWS by matching them with startups that work on technologies addressing product and business development. Product development spans from genetics research, breeding technologies, emerging crops, production technologies, seed technologies and treatments to automation, and digital services. Business development regarding startups ranges from strategic collaborations to new business opportunities and novel market places.

“We warmly invite startups that are interested in working with KWS to contact StartLife for an introduction”, concludes Schenk.

About StartLife

StartLife is Europe's leading startup accelerator in agrifoodtech, co-founded by Wageningen University & Research in 2010. Its mission is to empower founders to build and grow startups with breakthrough technologies that shape a sustainable food system. To this end, it provides a wide range of services, including business development support, business mentors, access to funding and a global network of leading players in food and agriculture.

About KWS*

KWS is one of the world’s leading plant breeding companies. Over 5,000 employees* in more than 70 countries generated net sales of around €1.5 billion in the fiscal year 2021/2022. A company with a tradition of family ownership, KWS has operated independently for 165 years. It focuses on plant breeding and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugarbeet, cereals, vegetables, oilseed rape and sunflower. KWS uses leading-edge plant breeding methods to continuously improve yield for farmers and plants’ resistance to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. To that end, the company invested more than €285 million last fiscal year in research and development.
*excl. seasonal workforce

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Sina Barnkothe-Seekamp
Sina Barnkothe-Seekamp
Lead of External Communications
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