SeedLinked: Bringing Diversity and Resiliency to Seed Systems through Collective Engagement and Insight.
Building resiliency in global food systems by re-localizing seed adaptation and increasing access to diverse crop varieties
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
A short Pitch at Foodbytes! Chicago
Here is an intro from Nicolas SeedLinked CEO:
Diversity among and within crop
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
July 31st 1985
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Viroqua in Wisconsin
Where are you making a difference?
Across the United States and Canada. We are starting projects (design phase) in Africa, India and Europe.
Website or social media url(s)
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
I began envisioning SeedLinked after I heard the story of CoCoRaHs, a web-based community data collection network born from a need for better data to predict and respond to localized weather events. Data collected through this volunteer network has resulted in the ability to accurately predict climate trends with just one year of network data compared to five years of equivalent weather station data. Seeing the impact of 20,000 volunteers connected by technology, I began envisioning a tool that would use smart phone technology coupled with data science and crop modelling to connect, extract, and share meaningful data in a way that would eliminate the current barriers preventing widespread use of collaborative seed selection initiatives.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
As humans have moved to agriculture-dependent diets, a reduction in biological diversity began. This trend continues with increasing consolidation in agricultural industries. Today, over 70 percent of research funds support the development of just two crops – corn and soybeans. With globalized markets, climate change, and increasing human populations, identifying food crops that provide desirable nutritional and culinary qualities while performing well under diverse conditions is essential.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Decentralized participatory seed systems enhance biodiversity in agriculture by prioritizing regional differences, conditions and interactions. SeedLinked makes this possible by eliminating the barriers – difficult information exchange, inefficient collaboration, and extracting meaningful data. SeedLinked crowdsources food crop varietal data from diverse agricultural stakeholders – gardeners, farmers, plant breeders, chefs, etc. – aggregating and analyzing the data to provide insight into regional adaptation and marketability. In one location, farmers can now find seed and plant varietals best adapted to their operation, location, and customer requirements from local sources, compare their outcomes with others, evaluate new varieties, and develop decision skills. Plant breeders can access granular data to improve their own selection decisions and insights into genetic crosses, performance, and product needs. The crowdsourced variety data powers a public online seed marketplace. Software services incentivize organizational participation to increase data generation while providing reduced testing costs, easier data collection, increased data accuracy/breadth, and real-time feedback
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
SeedLinked uses innovative approaches to crowdsourcing data, and couples this with emerging data science, analytics and smart phone technology to provide globally accessible and meaningful data with the power to change the world. In the face of growing populations and climate change pressures, SeedLinked enhances seed selection capacities by transforming the current trends of poorly adapted, generalized seed offerings to regionally targeted, informed seed offerings. SeedLinked beta testing over the past two years shows up to a 33% general performance increase in growers’ fields when using our prescriptive analytics to make decisions, compared to using current available information from research stations and limited field trials.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
Collaboration is the foundation of the SeedLinked platform, as our crowdsourced model of data collection would not be possible without multileveled collaboration. We created the platform with the purpose of bringing together all stakeholders in the seed industry to harness the full capacity of what we like to call our “seed ecosystem”. We provide the framework or central nervous system that allows the parts to function together as a whole in a way that contributes to a system that is collaborative and evolutive rather than disparate. SeedLinkeds takes data gathered from gardeners, farmers, chefs, bakers, seed libraries, seed companies, universities, farmer organizations, consumers, and seed banks, and creates meaningful data insights and seed stories to be shared and used by all. Organizations collaborating with SeedLinked include: Seed Savers Exchange, Slow Food USA, Bioversity, Seed of Change Canada, the World Vegetable Center.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
During the initial 2019 beta test version of our trialing software we had the following impact:
880 people used SeedLinked to document plant performance and flavor in their gardens and farms;
15 different organizations used SeedLinked to run 57 unique trials for 15 different crops;
Over 17,300 unique reviews were entered into the platform across the USA and Canada.
Feedback from participants and testing organizations in 2019 indicated the platform dramatically improved the way trial results are recorded and shared, and testing organizations confirmed it allowed high quality data be collected for decreased costs compared to traditional research plot testing. The ability to see testing results in real-time was another important outcome success. Longer range business outputs and impacts will be measured both in terms of participants numbers and platform revenues from our SaaS and marketplace offerings. Social impact will look at new variety adoption increases and successes.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
SeedLinked currently serves English speakers across North America, and as we grow, we are leveraging partnerships with important industry leaders, including universities, nonprofits, plant breeders, and grower groups. Our current partners have a combined network of more than 2 million growers. We have also been approached by testing organizations across the globe, and plan to expand our platform language offerings as funds become available. We are working with international organizations such as the World Vegetable Center and Bioversity, with plans to co-fund language and platform development with global partnerships.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
The current lack of available variety data pushes growers to base most production choices on personal experience and recommendations, which results in lower rates of new product adoption. Choosing the right variety is one of the highest ROIs for a farmer, and can generate a performance increase of up to 33%. SeedLinked benefit growers by providing better available variety data and institutions and regional seed companies by lowering variety development costs and increasing product placement. This in turn benefits the entire agricultural system, creatin.g a system that is more resilient to climate change in its new decentralization, responsiveness to grower needs, and evolutive capacity
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
In early 2020 SeedLinked received its first private investment to cover development and scaling up costs for the next two years. While we continue to seek further grant funding through our various partnerships to cover development needs over the next 2-5 years, we will begin funding our project through income generation beginning in 2021. Income will come from software services provided to seed breeders, trialing organizations, and universities (via payments for SaaS support, analytics and data) and through commissions on market transactions in our online seed marketplace for growers. Our targets indicate we will be cash flow positive in 2023, with 5 million in sales projected by 2024.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Our management team includes our full time CEO with ten years of experience in plant breeding program management; full time CTO, with ten years of experience in building and maintaining complex data analytics systems; Our part time Farmer Liaison, a CSA farmer and public researcher with experience in direct production farming, public research, varietal trial testing, and entrepreneurship, and our part time Marketing Director with over seven years of marketing for agricultural enterprises
11. How did you hear about this challenge?