The collaboration between the two organisations aims to boost innovation and foster cooperation with startups. KWS and StartLife both intend to support purpose-driven entrepreneurs in expanding their ventures and jointly creating sustainable agrifood systems.
“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,” Alexander Wiegelmann, head of new business ventures at KWS, says.
“The headquarters of the KWS vegetable business is based on the 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,” he adds.
Addressing various global agricultural issues
The agriculture industry currently faces various challenges like climate change, rising food demand and regulatory demands. KWS and StartLife assert that innovation in plant breeding is vital in addressing these global agricultural issues.
Both organisations stress the importance of partnerships for advancing innovative techniques in plant breeding, agricultural methods and sustainable farming practices. To speed up progress, KWS embraces open innovation and actively partners with startups that have promising breakthrough technologies, including StartLife.
With over 5,000 employees across more than 70 countries, KWS has achieved approximately €1.5B in net sales during the 2021/2022 fiscal year. The organisation specialises in plant breeding and producing and distributing seeds for various crops, including corn, sugarbeet, cereals, vegetables, oilseed rape and sunflower.
The Germany-based organisation actively engages with early and later-stage startups through joint proof-of-concept projects and strategic collaborations. KWS also engages in licensing agreements, joint ventures and minority investments with promising startups.
Facilitating strategic collaborations
This new partnership grants KWS access to StartLife’s worldwide agrifoodtech startup network. On the other hand, StartLife trusts that KWS, with its systematic review methods, is in a strong position to identify startup prospects.
KWS can offer valuable feedback and guidance to help startups discover the perfect product-market fit within the entrepreneurial community.
“We are delighted to see KWS already showing dedication to supporting and working with startups,” Annelies Schenk, manager of innovation & partnerships at StartLife says.
“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,” adds Schenk.
StartLife will assist KWS by connecting them to startups working on technologies for both product and business development. Product development encompasses genetics research, breeding technologies, emerging crops, production technologies, seed technologies, treatments, automation and digital services.
When it comes to business development, StartLife will facilitate strategic collaborations, explore new business opportunities and identify innovative marketplaces for startups.
“Together, we can truly accelerate the growth of startups and create positive impact,” says Schenk.
“We warmly invite startups that are interested in working with KWS to contact StartLife for an introduction.”