Multi-sensor drone technology receives energy grant

Multi-sensor drone technology receives energy grant
Matt Bechdol, an alumnus of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture and CEO of GRYFN, presented the company’s technology in September at the Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis. (AgriNovus Indiana)

Purdue University-affiliated agbioscience startup is creating technology to help meet the growing global demand for bioenergy and, in partnership with Purdue, has received new support from the U.S. government, according to an article on the university’s website.

GRYFN offers precise geomatics solutions for coaligned and repeatable multi-sensor drone data collection. The approach enables breeders to scale research operations and empowers them with precise, repeatable analytic solutions for high throughput phenotyping in the field.

“Data collection in plant breeding is a labor-intensive and slow process, and measurements can be highly subjective,” said Matt Bechdol, an alumnus of Purdue’s College of Agriculture who serves as CEO at GRYFN, in a statement. “Data quality expectations are high, and we are working to offer relatively easy-to-use flying laboratories. We believe our system helps make field data collection faster, more automated and consistent and will be collaborating with leading commercial crop breeding partners to validate this value.”

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GRYFN is partnering with Purdue on a $4.5 million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy. GRYFN was founded by eight Purdue professors with backgrounds in aeronautic technology, biology, plant sciences, agricultural and biological engineering, civil engineering, and electrical and computer engineering. The technology was originally developed under the Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program, through a $6.6 million ARPA-E grant awarded in 2015.

GRYFN is using the technology to help in the rapid genetic improvement and production of sorghum crops for biofuel.

The Purdue team started developing the technology as part of the university’s push for plant science research to create innovative approaches to the growing demand for food, fuel and fiber. Purdue’s strategic investment in plant sciences and the entrepreneurial ecosystem helped secure the first TERRA grant and performance justified a second ARPA-E investment in continued research and technology to market efforts.

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