American biotech firm Inari won the 2020 Newcomer of the Year Trophy for revolutionizing agriculture in Flanders and beyond. The biotech company focuses on the development of sustainable alternatives to the production of maize and soy seeds through the inventive combination of traditional breeding with genetic engineering. This enables Inari to significantly shorten seed development cycles from fifteen to five years.
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Biotech pioneer Inari (US) to expand R&D branch in Flanders
In 2018, after an intensive 18-month viability study, Inari set up business in Cambridge, Massachusetts – with a production site for large-scale seed production. At virtually the same time, the company opened a brand-new R&D branch in Ghent (Flanders) to focus on plant research.
"Cambridge, Massachusetts is known as a center of excellence in biotechnology for pharma applications, but less so for plant biotech,” says Fred Van Ex, managing director and senior director of R&D at Inari in Ghent. “The Ghent biotech valley, however, is specialized in plant biotechnology. What’s more, the presence of VIB, Flanders’ strategic research center for biotech, as well as the ILVO institute for agricultural research, make the region an innovative hotspot in our field.”
Currently, the new plant in Ghent performs research on the more efficient use of water and nitrogen (fertilizer) in soy and corn cultivation. This is in line with Inari's overarching approach in favor of sustainable agriculture. But there are ongoing talks to shift the focus to other crops, such as wheat and tomatoes.
As a result, Inari is already certain that its existing lab space in Ghent will expand from 500 m² to 850 m² by 2022. If needed, additional greenhouse space will be rented from partner organizations VIB (Ghent) and ILVO (Merelbeke). Talk about sustainable growth!