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InnerPlant Named to Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator in First Step Toward Corn that Signals When Low on Nitrogen

Wells Fargo and the National Renewable Energy Lab will provide non-dilutive funding for collaborative research at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center


InnerPlant, the company creating a new category of seed technology that unlocks data and makes global farming more efficient and sustainable, today announces its selection to the twelfth cohort of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Support from IN2 will facilitate InnerPlant’s work with the world-renown Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to identify nitrogen-responsive genes in corn required to create crops that emit signals - visible from as far away as space - when low on nitrogen.

“The production and use of fertilizers emit 2.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents annually - more than aviation and shipping combined - and the over-application of those nitrogen-based fertilizers produces nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2,” explains Shely Aronov, CEO and founder of InnerPlant. “Tapping into the plants themselves so they can tell us how much nitrogen they need or when they don’t need it offers a massive opportunity to make global agricultural more sustainable while protecting yields.”

The twelfth IN2 cohort consists of seven sustainable agriculture companies focused on mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change on global food systems. InnerPlant and the other selected companies will receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding to conduct technical assistance and field trial projects at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, the world’s largest independent plant science research institute.

“In the face of intensifying challenges in the agriculture industry and our environment, the world urgently needs innovative, sustainable solutions,” said Trish Cozart, IN2’s manager and the director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at NREL. “With projections indicating a global population of 10 billion people by 2050, we must develop methods that not only increase productivity, but do so without causing harm to our planet. IN2 is at the forefront of this mission, supporting promising startups that are reimagining the future of food and farming.”

InnerPlant creates plants that emit optical signals, which are detectable as far away as space when they’re under attack by pests or short of water or nutrients. The company’s first product, InnerSoy, a soybean that signals when under attack by fungus is currently on track for commercial launch in 2025.

“IN2’s twelfth cohort highlights some of the best startups in climate-aligned agriculture,” said Elliott Kellner, director of commercial innovation at the Danforth Center. “The selected companies have commercially viable technologies with tremendous potential to deliver environmental, economic, and societal benefits.”

Launched in 2014, IN2’s portfolio now includes 72 startups in the commercial building, affordable housing and sustainable agriculture spaces. InnerPlant was nominated to the program by a member of IN2’s nationwide Channel Partner network, which includes more than 60 business incubators, accelerators, and university programs. InnerPlant underwent an in-depth selection process by Wells Fargo, NREL, the Danforth Center, and IN2’s expert industry advisory board.

About InnerPlant
InnerPlant is a team of curious scientists and entrepreneurs creating an innovative new category of seed technology that harnesses plant physiology and unlocks data at scale to boost global agricultural yields and sustainability. The company was founded in 2018 by Shely Aronov and Rod Kumimoto. InnerPlant was recently recognized with a Special Mention TIME Best Inventions and was named a finalist in General Excellence by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards. For more information visit:

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2)
The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is a $50 million technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation. Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, IN2’s mission is to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, IN2 has since expanded its focus to advance technologies that address the sustainable production of agriculture and housing affordability. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation from experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and ongoing connections to organizations across value chains. For more information, visit

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