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How EFSI benefits SMEs in Europe - Innovation Industries case study: Solynta (Netherlands), Biotechnology


There are three main markets for potatoes: firstly, the consumer market for the potato we all use in home cooking; second, the processor market for the potato that will be processed – they need baseball-shaped potatoes to minimise waste when they make crisps, or brick-shaped potatoes to for fries. And thirdly, there’s the developing world market, where potatoes need to be more resistant to drought, pests or specific diseases.

Hein Kruyt, CEO of Solynta, has been conducting extensive research into selective breeding and phenotyping of potatoes with support from EU research grants. “This is not genetic modification,” he clarifies, “we have basically spent ten years breeding potatoes in order to obtain potato seeds with the right characteristics, like shape, higher nutritional value, or greater resistance to drought, pests and disease.”

Solynta, the company that Hein set up to develop these hybrid potato seeds, is now moving from the research stage to commercialisation. “After years of research, we now aim to get the seeds to the market in 2021” Hein explains. “We recently proved that the technology works. That was a key moment. We were doing some tests in Uganda and the Congo, and one of the farmers actually started crying when he saw the potential of these new hybrid seeds. He was explaining that the increased yields would allow him to pay for school fees for his children. It was – in his own words – the first time he could see a future for his family. It still gives me goose-bumps.”

With the company now moving into the next stage in its development, Solynta has received an important equity investment from Innovation Industries, an EIF-backed venture capital fund that specialises in technology, supported under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. “We needed funding to prepare for the commercialisation of the hybrid potato seed, scaling up seed production and setting up a supply chain, and business development and sales teams,” says Hein.

Solynta’s potato seed promises to be revolutionary, with 25 grams of potato seed needed to plant a hectare, instead of 2500kg of bulky and perishable potato tubers. “We are convinced that the commercialisation will bring lots of benefits to consumers and farmers across the world, through the availability of highly nutritious potatoes, especially in regions suffering from severe malnutrition, and much lower use of pesticides. It will be better for the planet, the wallet and for health,” he adds.

Company: Solynta (Netherlands)

Type of business: Biotechnology

EIF financing: InnovFin Equity, EFSI

Financial intermediary: Innovation Industries

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Spain, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/nl


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