Calyxt focuses on healthy, more sustainable products
7 Jul 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic has placed health and safety to the forefront of consciousness for individuals and businesses across the country. Products based on healthier ingredients and more sustainable crops are more important than ever. Calyxt, a company which focuses on plant-based technologies, finds itself perfectly situated with its leading-edge plant science to bring those products to market.
“Our mission is to use science, ingenuity and technology to unlock the brilliance of nature for the promise of tomorrow,” said Jim Blome, Calyxt CEO. “Our innovative technology, continuous improvement and robust scientific team are what allows us to maintain a competitive edge in the gene editing space, and we’re excited by the potential of our product pipeline to continue to deliver healthier, more sustainable alternatives.”
One of those products is Calyno®, the first gene edited food product launched by Calyxt in 2019. The premium oil is a high oleic soybean oil produced with both consumers and chefs in mind. The company has set up an e-commerce site to offer it to consumers and promotes Calyno® as a healthy, Midwest-grown oil that is traceable from farm to table.
“It is designed to deliver superior nutritional and functional benefits to improve the health profile and functional performance of prepared meals so customers can truly feel good about what’s on their plate,” said Blome.
Calyxt started in an industrial garage at the University of Minnesota ten years ago. It went public in 2017 and shortly thereafter moved into a state-of-the-art 11-acre campus in Roseville, Minnesota. The facility includes a greenhouse, test fields, research labs, finance, marketing and a test kitchen. The heart of their work is centered on using new technology to develop solutions to produce healthier, more sustainable products. For Calyxt, that means applying the genome-editing technology Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nuclease (TALEN®) with agricultural products to create those solutions.
“We’re doing what farmers and plant breeders have been doing for hundreds of years in choosing the best crops and breeding them to make stronger, more sustainable plants,” said Blome. “We accelerate that process with leading-edge TALEN® technology to enhance the unique characteristics that naturally exist in each plant, allowing us to develop healthier and more sustainable ingredients.”
TALEN®, developed in part by Calyxt co-founder and Chief Science Officer Dan Voytas, Ph.D., is an advanced breeding technology that allows for precision targeting of existing genes within a plant’s genome. That targeting allows scientists to select for desired characteristics, accelerating breeding in a fraction of the time.
Calyxt has been a Midwestern company since its inception and Roseville was an ideal choice for expansion given its proximity to the University of Minnesota and central metro location. As with most businesses recently, Calyxt felt the urgency caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The research and development Calyxt focuses on in the food and agriculture supply chain are part of a critical sector, so the company continued operating through the pandemic. Keeping the health and safety of employees and local communities was a top priority for the company, which is extremely grateful for the support it has received as it grew.
“We are proud of our Minnesota roots, and we have been warmly welcomed into the Roseville business community,” said Blome. “It has been very rewarding to invite community leaders and members into Calyxt for tours to learn more about our business and we look forward to continuing to build strong community relations for years to come.”
Just the beginning
Calyxt has positioned itself to continue providing products focused on improving quality of life for consumers. High fiber wheat, high oleic low linolenic soybean oil (HOLL) and low lignin alfalfa are all products in their pipeline. And recently, the company announced its HOLL soybean was designated a non-regulated article under the “Am I Regulated?” process by Biotechnology Regulatory Services of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The HOLL soybean is expected to launch as early as 2022.
The Roseville Economic Development Authority (REDA) coordinates and administers economic development and redevelopment initiatives for the City of Roseville, MN. It serves as a comprehensive resource for businesses seeking to startup and grow in the area. In addition to prioritizing business retention and expansion, the REDA connects area employers with the dedicated and talented workforce they need to succeed and thrive.