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Benson Hill and Danforth Plant Science Center Partner to Create Sustainable Sources of Bioenergy

By Benson Hill

June 20, 2016

Benson Hill and Danforth Plant Science Center Partner to Create Sustainable Sources of Bioenergy

CropOS™ Cloud Biology Platform Tapped to Advance Sustainable Crop Development
ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Benson Hill , an agricultural technology company dedicated to enhancing the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production, today announced a partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center TERRA-REF program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Program.
The partnership will leverage ‘Breed’, an application powered by Benson Hill’s CropOS cloud biology platform, to advance the performance of feedstocks as an alternative energy source through accelerating the development of improved sorghum varieties.

“Leveraging ‘Breed’ in this partnership represents the convergence of disciplines that we need in plant science to meet our global food and energy goals,” said Jim Carrington, Ph.D., president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. “This is a terrific example of what the next generation of plant science will look like, and platforms like CropOS will play a major role in helping us use rapidly expanding and diverse data to deliver sustainable crop improvements.”

The DDPSC TERRA-REF project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), is a $30 million initiative to develop and validate tools that support the rapid innovation of new feedstock varieties, including sorghum, a nutrient-dense, drought-tolerant crop used for ethanol, feed and food production. The project will sequence more than 400 sorghum genomes and capture tens of millions of phenotypic observations over the course of each growing season, generating data at a rate of several terabytes per day. This data will contribute to and leverage CropOS, Benson Hill ’ cognitive engine that utilizes big data analytics and machine learning capabilities to improve crop performance.

“Public-private sector partnerships are important elements for accelerating innovation in crops that are essential to our bioenergy vision,” said Joe Cornelius, the ARPA-E Program Director overseeing the DDPSC project. “Partnerships provide our teams with access to complementary tools and capabilities that amplify our efforts to develop commercially relevant technologies and ensure that the learnings we are generating will be impactful for the improvement of feedstocks to meet our bioenergy goals.”

Benson Hill’s proprietary software application ‘Breed’ provides a simple user interface for plant breeders and researchers across disciplines to easily manage phenotypes, map networks, predict traits, and identify high-performing crosses for advancement in a breeding program.

“We are pleased to join forces with this team of institutions and researchers who, like our team at Benson Hill, are dedicated to boldly innovating and tackling tall global challenges,” said Matt Crisp, CEO of Benson Hill . “Creating sustainable, low-cost feedstock crops will help secure energy independence and develop new forms of bioenergy. It is a societal and environmental step forward to create new market opportunities and private sector growth.”

About Benson Hill

Benson Hill is an agricultural technology company that unlocks the global genetic potential of plants to enhance the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production. Benson Hill and our partners harness natural and novel genetic variation through breeding, trait development, and genome editing to develop products that accelerate crop improvement.

About Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment, and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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