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Philippe Jutras, co-founder at Aberland

StartIn: Welcome on our Spotlight series! Can you please give us a quick introduction about yourself and your team, please?

Philippe: I’m an agronomist and a plant biotechnology specialist (PhD). I spent most of my academic career developing plant-based vaccines and pharmaceuticals, leading the production of the first human flu vaccine from plants. I worked and studied at the University of Oxford (UK), the University of Queensland (Australia) and Laval University (Canada). I’ve recently turned entrepreneur to combine my two passions: agriculture and biotechnology.

StartIn: Could you share a quick overview of your start-up? Your product, your market / target group, and in which stage are you currently in (MVP, funding, scaling, etc.)?

Philippe: Aberland is a startup developing cell-based wheat. Wheat feeds the world, yet its unsustainable production and limited nutritional value pose urgent challenges. Our team is pioneering a technology that uses cells – not plants – to commercialise healthier wheat products independently of climate, providing more sustainable options for the world. Just like cultivated meat, we are changing the game with cultivated wheat. Our primary product is a gluten-free, GMO-free wheat flavour powder targeted to the gluten-free market. We are an early-stage startup going through our pre-seed round.

StartIn: That sounds interesting – producing wheat without agriculture. But why is this important to do and is this economically viable?

Philippe: We decided to work on wheat to mitigate three long-term risks to humanity: [1] Stabilise global food systems. Wheat could be produced locally, guaranteeing food supply and sovereignty. [2] Reduce global warming. Crop production contributes significantly to carbon emissions due to fertiliser usage and deforestation. Imagine a world where crops are removed from the fields, and the land is reforested. [3] Prevent conflicts. Grains are as valuable as water or energy, and grain scarcity is often a catalyst for wars and control over global trade systems.

StartIn: We already know about big start-ups working on cell-grown meat. Why are you going for wheat and are there other plant products you might want to produce with your approach?

Philippe: Wheat is at the heart of our society’s foundation. We can live without meat, but we can’t without crops like wheat. 80% of all energy consumed by humans comes from only six plants: wheat, rice, corn, potato, sweet potato and cassava. And we believe we must work on these crops to stabilise the food supply chain and guarantee affordable commodity food to everyone.

StartIn: You also recently onboarded your co-founder and now got your team of three together and are set to progress! What is the number one goal for you to reach in the next twelve months?

Philippe: Any startups have to derisk four main topics: team, science, commercialisation and money. We now have a solid team to build the product, and our goal for the next 12 months is to develop our first product further. It is an essential step to attract additional commercial partners and subsequently more funding.

StartIn: For the end we like to ask what advice would you give to students who are interested in starting a start-up?

Philippe: My advice would be to find the reason why you are building a company and set a strong vision that will guide you during the entrepreneurial journey. As an entrepreneur, you are exposed daily to opinions and criticism, and it is essential to remember why your startup will have an impact on you or your community.

StartIn: Thank you for sharing your story!

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Are you currently hiring / looking for investors?: We are currently looking for investors for our pre-seed round (Angels and VCs)