Dewey Scientific, a new startup that spun out of Washington State University, has taken in $1.25 million in seed funding from unnamed private investors to create genetically superior marijuana and hemp strains.
“Dewey Scientific’s team is applying sophisticated scientific principles to develop genetically stable hybrid seed for hardier, more consistent and higher-yielding cannabis crops,” Dewey CEO Dr. Jordan Zager said in a statement.
The company hopes to bring to cannabis farmers the same scientific advancements that the rest of the agricultural world already enjoys. To accomplish that, it uses traditional breeding methods alongside genomics and data science tools.
“While more established crops have benefitted from genomics and advanced breeding methods, the prohibition of cannabis has created a gap in available technology,” said co-founder Dr. Paul Mihalyov.
Dewey is the latest addition to a group of Pacific Northwest startups using tech to power the cannabis industry. Others include analytics firm Headset, marketing software maker Grassworks Digital, cannabis directory WikiLeaf, cryptocurrency company POSaBIT, and marijuana intelligence platform Leafly.
Zager and Mihalyov studied at WSU under Dr. Mark Lange, who serves as Dewey’s chief scientific officer. Lange is known as an expert on terpenes, which are scented compounds secreted by plants that may play a role in the effects that different cannabis strains have on people. Zager’s dissertation also focused on terpenes, and Mihalyov studied on the use of genomics in wheat breeding.
The team published research earlier this year on the role of gene networks in cannabis plant traits, such as terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
The startup is developing new methods to create tissue cultures and identifying biological data that is important to breeding. It currently offers breeding services, terpene diagnostics, genomic analysis and other consulting services to growers.
The startup has already acquired new digs in the form of a 12,000 square-foot facility with lab space and greenhouses in Pullman, Wash.