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Vectr Bio: “The 23andMe of cannabis”

Erik Dunteman is looking to give cannabis growers and breeders more genetic and chemical control over their crops.

His company, Vectr Bio, offers a mail-in genetic screening kit for cannabis growers.

“A simple way of thinking about it is as the 23andMe of cannabis,” Dunteman said.

Here’s how the service works. Growers come to Vectr Bio with a specific breeding strategy request. Vectr Bio sends them two boxes, a genotype and phenotype box, in which they place samples of all the seedlings they’re interested in screening. From there, Vectr Bio sends the genotype kit to a DNA sequencer and the phenotype kit to a chemical testing lab. That paired data feeds to Vectr Bio, where they aggregate the data, notice specific markers within the genome and make recommendations to the growers.

By using Vectr Bio, cannabis growers will be able to receive feedback within a matter of days rather than having to wait an entire 6-month grow cycle.

“We are a data company. We’re not a bioscience company,” Dunteman said. “We’re not touching the crop. We’re not growing it. And we’re not experimenting on it. We’re doing nothing but data aggregation with the hopes that machine learning and advances in data technology will allow us to be able to screen for traits just computationally.”

Dunteman was recently accepted into the sixth cohort of the ISU Startup Factory and is now in the process of developing an MVP that he hopes to have completed by the end of the year.

Vectr Bio is currently in the middle of a friends and family investment round with a target raise of $160,000. The raised money will go towards developing an MVP and hiring a CTO.

Previous coverage

ISU Startup Factory announces twelve new teams for its sixth cohort -Jan. 23, 2019

Vectr Bio: "The 23andMe of cannabis" | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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