Young plant scientist William Pelton has been announced as the 2019 winner of Agri Innovation Den.

The agri-entrepreneur impressed the five-strong judging panel with his technology which aims to revolutionise crop development and tackle some of farming’s biggest challenges.

Dr Pelton has won a £40,000 business development package and will now work with organisers Farmers Guardian, BASF and Farm491 to elevate his business onto the next level.

Phytoform Labs aims to help breeders to cut down plant breeding times from decades to years using new gene editing and artificial technologies.

Judge and CFO of Agri Briefing, who is the parent company of Farmers Guardian, Rupert Levy, said: “The technology demonstrated by the winner can have a transformative effect on the crop growing world.

“Being able to develop new breeds with specific traits can offer part of the solution to the growing population and the need to produce more food in a sustainable way.

“For UK farmers this could be part of the solution to increasing yield in a sustainable way.”


Transforming crop production


Rather than introduce foreign DNA into a plant, Phytoform Labs turns the genes that create desirable and non-desirable traits in a plant on and off.

Genome editing is looked on more favourably by regulators in most countries than traditional genetic modification, and is a quicker and more targeted way to develop plants.

Speaking to Farmers Guardian Will, who combined his skills with synthetic biologist Dr Nicolas Kral, to found the company, said: “The Phytoform Labs team are really excited and proud to have received this award.

“The Agri Innovation Den is a great opportunity for us to connect with the UK agricultural community and build our network.

“With the team behind it we hope to learn more about how these problems affect the agricultural supply chain and how we can better assist in solving these challenges.

“We would like to say a big thanks to all of the Agri Innovation Den panelists, Farmers Guardian, Agribriefing, Farm 491 and BASF for their support.”

The winner’s package includes:

  • Print and digital advertising to the value of £30,000 across Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming
  • An innovative PR and marketing package, which includes the creation of bespoke content for your exclusive use, comprising a promotional video, article, press release and social media support
  • Two delegate packages to the Oxford Farming Conference 2020, including conference tickets, accommodation, dinner and Emerging Leaders Programme participation
  • Six hours of mentoring for the business in 2020
  • A 12-month membership of Farm491, including: one-to-one business support with the Farm491 team; access to AgriTech knowledge network; funding advice and building a scalable funding strategy; access to hot-desking facilities and meeting rooms; promotion on Farm491 site, newsletters and social media
  • Exhibition space at CropTech
  • Exhibition space LAMMA’s new Farming 4.0 Zone, highlighting theUK farming’s expertise, flair and passion for innovative technology