Co-Founder in Residence, Accelerating Crop Lifecycle to Boost Farm Productivity

ABOUT THE ROLE:

At DSV we’re looking for future Founders, entrepreneurially minded individuals with industry-specific technical and commercial domain expertise eager to solve urgent unmet challenges through venture building.

You will join DSV’s venture creation programme as a Founder in Residence and work closely with the DSV team, using our methodology, to spin-out a new company. During the programme, you’ll work on all aspects related to venture creation in this opportunity area, including working out the optimal approach to solve for the desired outcome, building a team and building a viable business case. Once the new venture is incorporated with pre-seed investment from DSV, you and your co-founders will own the majority stake in the business and continue receiving support from the DSV team post-spinout.

The role is full-time and fully remote until venture incorporation and spin-out, after – TBD. 

PROBLEM OVERVIEW:

The global population will surge to over 9 billion by 2050, and we will need a 70% increase in food production to adequately feed this future global population [1][2]. Crops are essential to meet this need; 55% of the world’s crop calories are consumed directly by humans, and another 36% is used for animal feed [3]. Crop breeding has been a primary driver of food security due to the selection of superior cultivars that meet caloric, nutritional, and productivity metrics. However, the acceleration of climate change threatens cultivar selection efficiency since new biotic and abiotic stresses emerge without warning; thus, there is a critical need to accelerate how we breed for future crops.

Conventional and advanced plant breeding technologies have helped alleviate yield losses due to climate change, such as drought and pest resistance. However, even in the era of advanced breeding and precise genetic engineering, these technologies have yet to achieve the full potential of crops because fundamental challenges remain unaddressed. To this end, this opportunity area (OA) seeks to reduce the seed-to-seed generation time by at least 10X through novel florigenesis induction technologies.

We seek entrepreneurial scientists eager to create the next generation of crops and technologies to enable food security, fight climate change, and increase profits for producers. The successful candidate will have access to DSV’s research and expertise to identify what novel approaches help us achieve the high-level outcome of halving the time necessary to identify commercially viable crop varieties.

References

[1] https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.1116437108

[2] https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2020-02/apo-nid274256.pdf

[3] https://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6053187/cropland-map-food-fuel-animal-feed

OUR APPROACH:

We are pioneering an approach that disrupts traditional plant breeding methods by focusing on the molecular mechanisms of florogenesis. Current speed breeding techniques significantly reduce the time required for crops to flower but are constrained by environmental queue interventions becoming limited to the biology of crops. We aim to delve deeper, targeting the underexplored “florigen” factors—genetic and hormonal pathways that govern flower development. The opportunity lies in leveraging transcription factors and hormonal interplay to induce rapid and efficient gametogenesis, irrespective of environmental conditions. This new frontier in plant physiology and molecular biology will usher in a new era of crop variety development that will enable agriculture to be ahead of sudden pressures associated with climate change.

Requirements

WHO SHOULD APPLY:

We’re seeking a co-founder with experience in plant physiology, tissue culture, and a solid background in machine learning and artificial intelligence, coupled with a strong commercial drive and technical expertise spanning the agricultural sector.

    1. An advanced degree in Plant Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, or a related discipline.
    2. Expert knowledge and extensive research experience in plant physiology, particularly in flowering induction, plant maturation and age signaling, fertilization, seed development, or related topics.
    3. Deep understanding of the molecular signals and environmental cues necessary for an apical meristem to become a floral meristem is crucial.
    4. Expert knowledge and extensive research in plant tissue culture, particularly in organogenesis, protoplast regeneration, plant hormone treatments, plant cell culture for pharmaceutical compound production, or related topics.
    5. Familiarity with machine learning and AI techniques to solve complex biological problems, particularly in areas such as protein-protein/protein-DNA interaction modeling, plant phenotype prediction, optimization of plant growth conditions, plant breeding and selection strategies, or related topics.
    6. Familiarity with data-centric approaches in biology, including but not limited to, bioinformatics, computational modeling, and high-throughput data analysis related to proteomics, genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics.
    7. Experience in establishing molecular and tissue culture protocols in non-model organisms is preferred.
    8. Experience working with and developing transient genetic delivery systems in plants is highly desired.
    9. Experience working in a science startup environment is highly desired.
    10. An innovative mindset, strong problem-solving, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team.
    11. Proficiency in communicating complex scientific concepts to diverse audiences.
    12. Fluency in English and Spanish is preferred.
    13. Willingness to relocate or frequently travel to Costa Rica, as our work will focus on accelerating progress in tropical agriculture.

Benefits

OUR OFFER

By joining DSV, you’ll be joining a team of operators who have founded companies and led translation of science at some of the most respected universities, charities, funds and government agencies. 2/3 of the team have founded or led a company at C-suite and 65% have a PhD. Our team dedicate several hours every week to each Founder or founding team to provide tailored guidance, resources and feedback covering every aspect of what it takes to successfully launch a new venture from both the tech and commercial perspectives:

  • We provide optimised, purpose-built, proprietary tools, resources and processes to help create high-impact ventures from scratch, using our venture creation methodology. Read more about one of our key tools here.
  • We draw on opportunity area specific know-how provided by our network of Partners and Advisors;
  • We provide £250k investment governed by our Investment Committee to incorporate the new venture and develop early proof-of-concept data that’s needed to attract high profile non-venture studio VCs. This funding is also key to get grant funding, which most often needs to be matched with private investment;
  • We provide guaranteed income of £4,166 per month paid to each Founder in Residence as a consultancy fee until the company is launched and the pre-seed investment is secured;
  • You and your co-founders will own a majority equity stake in the company;
  • We provide continuous support after post spin-out, including fundraising, commercial partnerships, recruitment and team-building (amongst other things); plus
  • There are dozens of Founders currently at DSV across sectors working collaboratively and supporting one another – a unique resource to draw on.

ABOUT DSV

Deep Science Ventures is creating a future in which both humans and the planet can thrive.

We use our unique venture creation process to create, spin-out and invest into science companies, combining available scientific knowledge and founder-type scientists into high-impact ventures.

We operate in 4 sectors: Pharmaceuticals, Climate, Agriculture and Computation, tackling the challenges defining those areas by taking a first principles approach and partnering with leading institutions.