Nicolas Enjalbert – Let’s disrupt the oligopoly seeds industry, currently bad for everyone, people, planet and flavour

A conversation with Nicolas Enjalbert, CEO and Co-Founder of SeedLinked, an innovative company digitizing collaborative breeding and a seed breeder, about our current seed system, flavour and nutrients, collaborative seed research, and much more.


Seeds, it all starts with seeds (and soil) but mostly seeds. And our current seeds system is structurally not able to grow seeds that are adaptive to local niches, weather, let alone flavour or nutrients etc., but only able to grow seeds for large large monoculture agriculture systems. But 97% of the global farmers aren’t large monoculture farmers, and 70% of our global food is grown by them. Who grows seeds for them, and how are we going to innovate and adapt there? This interview takes a deep dive into the world of collaborative seed research, about yields, nutrients and flavour? And yes, we also tackle thorny topics like GMO, CRISPR and your favourite heirloom tomato.

This episode is part of the Nutrient Density in Food series!
This series is supported by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of The Environment, which is a private foundation with a mission to protect and conserve the natural environment. The Grantham Foundation raises awareness of urgent environmental issues and supports organizations working to find solutions. Over the last few years, the Grantham Foundation has funded an extensive portfolio of projects focused on reducing emissions and removing carbon directly from the atmosphere.


Connecting farmers through digital platforms can reduce seed development costs and adoption time, increasing trust and collaboration among growers.

”With digitalization, imagine if we can connect the inside, one to develop seed at a much lower cost because training and testing are the highest costs, but if you do this together, where your future customer is testing with you, then imagine the vast amount of knowledge that is generating in this innovation. You connect it, and then you use that to help any other grower find new innovation or find new seeds. So, on the one hand, you make the development of seeds cheaper and faster by just doing it with your customer, and on the other side, you use all this knowledge from the grower to help other growers find the seeds, so you drop the adoption curve. You explode the trust because a farmer trusts vastly more insight from other farmers…” – Nicolas Enjalbert

”…sitting on a platform that allows collaborative innovation and research together. And with all the features to do that, fully integrating social media, where people can talk with each other, ask questions, and interact, because seed discussion is the number one discussion that a farmer has.” – Nicolas Enjalbert


Nicolas tells us about a project they are working on together with a local seed company and independent breeders to develop alfalfa that can withstand corn shade.

‘’We are working on an amazing project, and I’m really excited… Back in the day, I was an alfalfa breeder, and I was working with a large seed company. I was amazed at the amazing people working in those large companies, and I was amazed that they let me play with the weird mix system, and so one of them was working with people in the USDA on developing alfalfa that could withstand corn shade, so we were planting corn, silage corn, and alfalfa all together. Obviously, the conventional variety of alfalfa was just dying because there was a lack of resources of sun, and so they were not at all suited for growing with corn. And then when you have the corn that the alfalfa takes over, it’s like a cover crop, and then you go into full-on silage of forage harvests and production system, but what we did was develop a shade tolerance alfalfa that could withstand the pressure of corn like a mixed system, so we bred a variety of alfalfa that allowed to this coexistence pressure and survived…” – Nicolas Enjalbert

”But the impact such innovation can have in ag and, in this case, in soil and erosion is tremendous. But that’s just an example of so many innovations that the mainstream has not done to carry on those innovations due to the margin financial system structure they are on and so forth.”- Nicolas Enjalbert

”I’m convinced there are 1000s of those types of micro innovations that could be really exponentially grown with some investment. And especially breeding needs… it can take seven, eight years plus and so I, sometimes wanted to dream about, what about if I have a pool of capital to invest in so many microbe breeding projects and have a pay forward mechanism where once it’s ready to come to market, then we can pay back to this fund and have kind of this fund that allow to create a system where we can invest in the future with all those micro investor developing the seed of the future.” – Nicolas Enjalbert


Nicolas points at the emerging seed companies and their potential for growth. Small seed companies are gaining market share as consumers seek more ethical and sustainable products.

”We start to see a lot of emerging seed companies and a lot of emerging initiatives that are absolutely amazing. […] We see many small seed companies that are coming in, their market share is growing and growing. And people want to find more ethical products and ethical partners to work with. And so I believe that we need to give them the capacity to make those small seed companies profitable, because that is really one of the biggest challenges: how to make them profitable. And until we find an economic model, it’s going to be extremely hard.” – Nicolas Enjalbert

”…they are looking at different pathways to not only sell a seed, but it’s really selling a story, a novel, a full story that you can find all the way to the shelf…” – Nicolas Enjalbert


Nicolas discusses the importance of flavour in agriculture, highlighting the need for more research on nutrient density and flavour marker associations.

”Flavour is now at parity with yield in this space we are in. I mean, performance and flavour go hand in hand. And now I am trying to find partners, and I’m starting to build collaboration, but let’s look at, okay, flavour and crowdsource information. What can be a predictor of nutrient density? And so, can we crowdsource information from growers or from consumers at a fraction of the cost? What chemistry lab analysis of nutrient density information analysis could give us? But can we do a model where we can crowdsource information?’’ – Nicolas Enjalbert

”Could we look at nutrient density? And so, yeah, that’s kind of the next journey. And I’m really hoping that soon we’re going to dive into this.” – Nicolas Enjalbert


Koen and Nicolas also talked about:

  • Plant breeding and genetics
  • Open-source seed development and distribution
  • Decentralised AI for sustainable agriculture
  • Why seeds are so important
  • The need of seeds that are adapted to local circumstances and changing climate




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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