AWS Startups Blog

Maximizing Yields: NRGene’s Modern Approach to Agricultural Production

Data-driven analytics and machine learning are go-to resources for a wide spectrum of modern industries, from mobility solutions to financial management. Everyone’s looking for the perfect symbiosis of information and output—but what does all that data have to do with corn and cannabis?

Welcome to the burgeoning field of agricultural genomics, NRGene’s specialty. As CEO Jonathan Jaglom explains, “NRGene plays in the world of molecular breeding, combining the genetic side of breeding together with the traditional.” In other words, NRGene’s solutions build on thousands of years of agricultural selective breeding and crossbreeding techniques to help its clients maximize their products. “If you can identify the genes that are responsible for certain traits, that’s the holy grail,” says Jaglom. “Then you can really speed up your time to market with a certain crop. You don’t have to wait for the crop to grow to maturity; you can identify the needs and the traits very early and crossbreed from there.”

According to Jaglom, NRGene’s clients are able to advance their yields—in the broadest sense of the word—by harnessing the vast amount of information NRGene has collected in proprietary databases. “We’ve mapped out over four hundred genomes to date. We’re the largest database ever created by any player in this field.”

Specifically, NRGene is looking to help cultivate crops and livestock that can stand up to today’s climate and population challenges. “If you look at the quality of the crop, it ultimately goes back to yields. So, if you can provide a crop that’s disease resistant, if you can provide a crop that grows faster than its predecessors or with less water intake, all that improves the yields in the sense that there is more crop to enjoy at the end of the day,” says Jaglom. “We provide that technology.” And NRGene’s technology is widely applicable. As Jaglom notes, “It’s really across the spectrum in terms of crop. It can vary from wheat, maize, rice, cannabis—you name it.”

As a relatively new agricultural arena, cannabis has sparked a particular interest for NRGene. It’s no secret that the cannabis industry has blown up over the last decade as states across the country legalize medical and recreational marijuana. “Cannabis is a really interesting vertical for us,” says Jaglom. “There is a lot of hype around cannabis, there’s a lot of money in cannabis right now, and we’re partnering up with key players in the cannabis space.” NRGene hopes its technology will allow the cannabis breeding companies it’s partnered with to identify and develop certain traits in their seeds, thereby edging out their competitors in this wide-open field.

While NRGene’s current solutions are predominantly aimed at large-scale agribiotech firms and research institutions such as universities, the company also has its eye on tailoring its technology for small and medium-sized enterprises. To do so, NRGene is looking to create and offer technology for those smaller businesses that’s “more automated from an AI perspective, easier to use, and more accessible in pricing,” says Jaglom. “I think we’ll manage to do that, and we’ll broaden our scope of potential customers. That’s where we’re heading.”

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.