Plense Technologies: Next-Gen Crop Management

By Tessa van Breeden - Much hard work goes into the tomatoes you buy from the supermarket every week. For example, monitoring is crucial in crop breeding and is often done manually. Plense Technologies is creating a one-of-a-kind tracking and data system to make the process more efficient.

How it works

Breeders create new crop varieties, while growers cultivate as many crops as possible with the seeds produced by breeders. Plense Technologies currently focuses on breeders that develop new crop varieties that are, for example, disease-resistant. Currently, a crop variety is scored manually by a breeder, for example, on performance. It is a very intense process: in one greenhouse, thousands of varieties may differ in climate preferences. And, if a particular type needs more water or another temperature, it usually takes a couple of weeks to notice. Thanks to the sensors and data of Plense Technologies, the breeder will know in real-time what a variety needs and how it responds in the specific growing conditions of that day, which makes the process more efficient and quicker.

The start

Berend de Klerk and Thijs Bieling co-founded Plense Technologies after encountering the technology during their graduation project and being matched by their supervisor. Their professor had patented the ultrasound technology sensors, and together with the TU Delft, they decided to commercialize this solution. So, they registered for the entrepreneurship course from YES!Delft Students and ultimately started their startup. 

Driving through Westland

Their initial market research approach was simple but effective: they drove through the Westland, where many breeders and growers in the Netherlands are based. They spoke about challenges in cultivating crops with as many experts as possible. Then, they decided on a two-week internship at a propagation company. Though ultimately not the perfect sub-segment for their solution, they gained valuable experience to enhance their ideas.

Affordable tracking

Berend and Thijs decided to start in the breeding segment of the crop market. Currently, two pilots are running to test the sensors and the data. The purpose is to filter out the most valuable data for the breeder. Sensors can be expensive. Therefore, Plense Technologies is working on a business case to make them more affordable, as many of them are needed to monitor all varieties in a greenhouse effectively. Their expertise is in translating the data from the sensor into actionable plans. Therefore, they plan to integrate with existing platforms.

“One of the pilots is in a research center at the University of Wageningen called the NPEC. They are very impressed with the results, and we convinced them of our sensors and translation to actionable data. That was a huge boost for us.” Berend de Klerk, co-founder of Plense Technologies.

Upcoming 6 – 12 months

Currently, they are participating in the YES!Delft Accelerator program to build up their startup with the help of experts. Furthermore, they will continue with the two running pilots and envision another larger pilot. Also, they are looking for graduates and interns, especially in electrical engineering and plant physiology. Berend and Thijs invite anyone interested in advancing their startup to visit their website.

“YES!Delft is the perfect place for us. It’s near the growers, and we can collaborate with other startups. Getting feedback is easy; we receive good guidance and much help. It’s an inspiring environment,” Berend de Klerk, co-founder of Plense Technologies.

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