When we spoke to you in June of 2020, you told us that you had IP submissions on grain production. What’s the status of those applications now?
JASON COPE, CIPO: We’re excited to now have three issued patents in our grain production IP family, which is further evidence of the novel work we are doing in this space. In November of 2021, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued two new patents directed to specific field-based uses of our grain production technologies. These two patents are complementary to our first, foundational grain production patent that issued in September of 2019. This trio of patents protects the use of the ideas we developed for intentional pollination of crops being grown for grain and will enable us to bring on-demand pollination directly to farmers’ fields.
How does intentional pollination help grain production?
JASON COPE, CIPO: PowerPollen has developed technologies that allow us to preserve, store, and apply large quantities of preserved pollen in fields or other growing environments. The use of this technology in grain fields improves grain production by harnessing the genetic advantages enabled by cross-pollination. Yield and desirable grain characteristics can both be increased through cross-pollination. In addition, risk caused by environmental variables can be reduced since the timing of pollination can be optimized. The output benefits to farmers are what’s truly exciting about this innovation and our goal is to ensure farmers can soon access this technology directly to measurably improve their grain production.
What aspects of the technology do the newly issued patents cover?
JASON COPE, CIPO: US Patent 11,166,421 protects the use of automation to apply the pollen to the grain crop. Automation is critical in large-scale agriculture. Our innovation allows us to use different kinds of land-based vehicles to apply the pollen, as well as drones and other aerial technologies. By using existing and new forms of machines, we can open up new ways of applying pollen at the right time in the right place, even if the fields are difficult to access due to mud or conditions that prevent the use of standard farm vehicles.
In addition, US Patent 11,166,422 protects the use of information, such as market trends or commodity prices, to select specific pollen for cross-pollinating grain. Growers have typically relied on self-pollination for grain crops. Now, our technologies expand their options by offering customized cross-pollination. While their crop is still immature, growers now have extra time to watch market and price information, then make an informed real-time decision about how to best pollinate their crop as peak pollination time approaches. Growers can choose pollen that will affect the grain composition, such as increasing the amount of oil, starch, or other desirable contents in the grain. The value of the resulting yield can be significantly higher because growers can sell their grain into a specialty market, such as high oil, rather than the regular commodity market.
What else do you have in the works for grain production?
JASON COPE, CIPO: PowerPollen continues to refine our existing technologies and develop new technologies to push the boundaries of agriculture as we know it. We still have other grain-related patent applications working their way through the system at the US Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries as well. In addition, we have other IP in progress related to our core technologies of pollen preservation and application that will shape the future of agriculture.