January 18, 2022

Drone team focusing on plant-breeding applications

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Trenton Lindenman, chief operating officer at GRYFN, leads an agbioscience startup company based in Indiana.

This year has been full of ups and downs, but the company has persevered. He shared his story with AgriNews.

Tell us about GRYFN.

“GRYFN uses a multi-sensor UAV platform to collect research-quality data from crops in the field to drive analysis and insights.”

When was GRYFN created?

“September 2017.”

What challenges does GRYFN solve?

“GRYFN aims to bring high throughput phenotyping to the field.”

How can GRYFN be utilized on farms or in business/research projects?

“The GRYFN platform can be used in several different applications, but currently we are focusing on plant-breeding applications.

“Plant breeding can take five to seven years to get a product to market. If you can identify the underperforming lines and the elite lines earlier in the breeding pipeline, it enables you to do two things.

“First, you can test more lines early and cut harder, thus improving your chances of identifying truly elite genetics. Second, you can move quickly with lines that indicate a high probability of being elite.

“This enables breeders to focus their limited resources on the lines with the highest likelihood of creating a commercially viable product and getting to market quicker. This translates into an increased rate of genetic gain, which offers value to both breeder and grower.”

What role has Purdue played with your startup?

“GRYFN was founded by eight Purdue professors with backgrounds in aeronautic technology, biology, plant sciences, agricultural and biological engineering, civil engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.

“GRYFN partnered with Purdue and received a $2.25 million sub-award grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. GRYFN is using technology developed at Purdue and licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.”

What’s something valuable you’ve learned during the startup process?

“There are ups and downs, like any work, but when working for an early stage startup things are amplified. The highs are higher and the lows are lower.”

What’s something you’ve learned during COVID?

“Make sure you have a plan B, C, D and E. Adjust as needed, mitigate risks and work through ambiguity.”

Has COVID affected your startup this year? If so, how?

“Yes, the pandemic forced us to change the way we train and onboard new clients, and we moved to a larger, more traditional office space at the Purdue Research Park to accommodate growth and a safer workplace.”

What do you envision for the future of GRYFN?

“This year was about operational excellence, driving evidence to support our capabilities and collaborator feedback. Now we turn to telling our story, to sales and customer support for the coming season.

“The technology that GRYFN’s platform utilizes has applications outside of plants sciences. As we grow, that allows us that latitude to be able to explore those other adjacent markets.”

What might you imagine the future of ag technology in general to look like?

“Actionable information is going to continue to grow in importance in the agriculture industry. Technologies that can accurately collect data and turn that data into actionable insights/decisions will be adopted in the agriculture industry.”

Has Indiana been an enjoyable place to have an agbioscience startup?

“Yes, Indiana has strong support for startups in the agriculture space. There is a great network of collaborators to work with and a pipeline of talent to tap into.”

What can farmers/ag companies interested in GRYFN do to learn more?

"Visit our website www.gryfn.io or email us at info@gryfn.io."