The Wheatsheaf Group, the international agribusiness and food investment fund within Grosvenor Estates, has formed a new data platform to improve the yield and resilience of crops and livestock. Synomics is a spinout from PrecisionLife, an Oxford-based company supported by Wheatsheaf, that uses data to uncover biological insights and develop new treatments for human health.

Synomics intends to use the same methodology to accelerate precision interventions to advance food production and animal health. It says it has spent the last year developing the platform to enable animal and crop scientists and producers to get a better understanding of what drives key production traits and innovate accordingly.

Dr Peter Kristensen is chief executive of Synomics. A veterinarian, he has formerly worked for Boehringer Ingelheim and Genus where he led the pig business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “The success of Synomics will be judged on the quality and biology of the food produced through the insights it can deliver,” he says. “Unlocking the power of biology to enable innovation through the food chain in order to ultimately feed the world’s billions in a sustainable way is a gigantic ambition, “but I believe we can give the industry the insights to do it.

“The proprietary combinatorial analytics platform we have developed will give businesses throughout agriculture the insights they need to innovate new products and solutions at speeds that haven’t been possible before, and at significantly less expense. Both factors are extremely important in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

Executive chairman Dr Jon Lightner, a plant scientist, spent much of his career at DuPont Pioneer (now Corteva) before moving to Genus in 2013 as chief research and scientific officer. “We are giving scientists, farmers and food producers the ability to learn more about the animals they breed and the crops that they grow with insights they have not been previously able to liberate from the data they already hold,” he says.

“Our technology can unlock the next wave of understanding of the relationship between subtle biology and observable outcomes, and the application of this understanding to make positive impacts in food production. We can be a catalyst and enabler of positive change in our food systems.”

A Synomics report on genomic improvement in dairy cattle has identified more than 100 highly predictive Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) linked to health, production and fertility traits, which it believes could lead to a step-change in increased genetic gain in dairy cattle breeding. The company has also released a report into Cassava Mosaic Disease listing the discovery of 50 new Quantitative Trait Nucleotides associated with disease resistance or susceptibility.