Lab-grown potatoes? E Green Global develops Microtuber Technology that could help address world hunger

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A Korean startup E Green Global, has developed a system that it claims will change forever the way that potatoes grown and could provide a key solution to global poverty. Its Microtuber Technology (MCT) enables the large-scale supply of disease-free seed potatoes, throughout the year in a culture facility like a plant factory.

And it has secured KRW 10 billion (US$9.2 million) in a funding round from Yellow Dog-SK-KDB Social Value Fund to takes its technology global.

The market for potatoes, estimated to be worth around $140 billion, is booming and is expected to grow even further with the increasing world population.

The problem, however, is that it is very difficult to secure enough high-quality seed potatoes with the production systems we currently have. Keeping the potatoes disease-free is an especially tricky task

EGG’s Microtuber Technology allows the large-scale supply of disease-free seed potatoes throughout the year in a culture facility like a plant factory. 

In the pre-existing seed potato production system, the harvest was limited to 1-2 times a year, and building a large-scale greenhouse was necessary for mass production.

EGG can produce seed potatoes with remarkably low risk of infection by putting the entire production process in a controlled environment in the lab, and accelerate the production cycle by drastically reducing the proliferation steps necessary to produce certificated seed potatoes. With such technology, EGG could reduce the time needed to produce certificated seed potatoes from 5-6 years to less than 2 years.

The price of potatoes grown in this way is also cheaper as they can be produced throughout the year and sowed directly without additional seedling process requiring the greenhouse.

“EGG’s MCT technology is significant because it not only helps alleviate the hunger by boosting productivity and production sustainability of potatoes, but also helps secure crops resilient to the climate and environmental change by drastically reducing the time needed to produce the certified seed,” said Inwon Park, an Associate of EGG.

EGG plans to use the capital to expand its production facility to supply seed potatoes to its US and Chinese clients, with whom it has signed a contract worth KRW 100 billion (US$92 million). 

“Nobody had been successful in commercializing the MCT for decades, yet EGG made it possible with its willpower and dedication to its mission of alleviating the world hunger. We look forward to the positive social impact EGG will make, with its proven technology and the strong, devoted team.” – Hyunjoo Je, CEO/Managing Partner of Yellowdog.



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