As the world's population reaches 9.7 billion in the year 2050, global crop production will need to double to meet the projected demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel. We at AFINGEN® are an agriculture biotechnology company aiming at enhancing crop production and meeting the natural resource demand in new sustainable manners. In 2014, plant science and technology-transfer teams at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) launched Afingen to apply synthetic biology approaches in the development of low-cost biofuels that are cost-competitive with gasoline and corn grain ethanol. This spin-off was supported through the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program award entitled, “Generation of switchgrass plants with optimized biomass composition for biofuel production,” to engineer energy crops that will contain more fermentable sugar and less lignin in selected structures.
With a novel biotechnology approach - genetic Positive Feedback Loop approach - discovered from the project, we subsequently applied for and was awarded 1) United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) SBIR grant “Fast-growing high-yield forage crops via a novel biotechnology platform" aimed at demonstrating the new technology into forage alfalfa and silage sorghum, and 2) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant “Fast-growing high-yield wheat and canola for efficient nutrient recycling systems” to develop fast-growing high-yield rotation crops towards better recycling systems on the both Earth and Mars.
Based on research outcomes from the above and other research programs, we have been further prototyping crop-biorefinery system & plant-based biomanufacturing-delivery system to reduce agricultural emissions and develop better crop-nutrient recycling systems for future sustainable agriculture. To see our progress in the prototypes of improved food, feed, fiber, and fuel crops, please visit our Technology page. To see our financial history, please visit our Crunchbase page.