Company Name: Petiole

Summary: Petiole is a mobile solution in precision/GMO agriculture. It measures plant leaf area and chlorophyll content using a camera on a mobile phone in real time. This information can be used to help agronomists, agricultural scientists, crop-protection and seed companies to get more valuable plants, yields and insights. In November 2015, Petiole was ranked among the ‘20 Hottest Startups of the Year’ by CNBC.

The Product

Petiole is a precision agriculture technology company developing solutions to improve agricultural research and decision-making about yields. Petiole provides accurate data with an advanced data analytics platform to help researchers make faster, more informed decisions. Petiole works with agriculture’s leading research institutions to remove technical challenges of specific leaf area measurement. Petiole can support agricultural research, agricultural chemistry, education, arable farming, ecology and horticulture.

The Petiole android app allows you to see plant leaf surface and chlorophyll content in just a few taps! The app monitors dynamics of plant growth using leaf-area measurement, helping to understand how a plant reacts to different factors (weather, growth promoters for example). It allows users to quantify leaf greenness and make predictions and observations about disease prevalence in the leaf at the touch of a button. Petiole has a mobile app to make leaf-area measurement and data cloud service to collect, process data and show growth in an affordable way.

The technology captures visual data from the plant leaf and transforms it into actionable insights to researchers via mobile and cloud applications.

Petiole’s goal is to be a world leader in solutions for agricultural research. Their vision is to enable precision plant leaf data into agriculture research to make agriculture more sustainable and to help feed a growing population.

The technology is unique to Petiole and has been developed for Android phones. The mobile application can be downloaded for free from Google Play.

On working with Farm491 and the RAU:

Maryna and Andrii found Farm491 online and after hearing positive feedback, applied for membership. They have attended workshops, talked to experts and learnt about different types of companies that might be of benefit to the development of their business. Maryna says that the partnership with Farm491 has been extremely fruitful and that Farm491’s support as a mentor has enabled their business to grow.

Main challenge of being an entrepreneur:

The development of Petiole has been a gradual process, with constant tweaking and improvement as feedback has been received. Technological challenges at the early stages were a stumbling point, especially when it was found that the app would not work for some specifications of camera on mobile phones. It also became apparent that some leaves, such as wheat, became too curved making them hard to measure. A solution was therefore developed for difficult leaves.

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Meet the Founders: Maryna Kuzmenko and Andrii Seleznov

Petiole is the innovation of two Founders, Maryna Kuzmenko and Andrii Seleznov – with the support of mentor, Martin Wyatt and advisor, David Pennell.

Ukrane born Maryna moved to the UK in 2012 to study International Commercial Business Law. Never wanting to be an ‘IT Girl’ but knowing that entrepreneurship in technology was where her passion lied, and believing that technology is one of the greatest tools for making change, Maryna collaborated with Andrii and together they created Petiole. When asked what inspires her, Maryna said; “I am inspired by the idea to make something better and to make someone’s life easier and more positive.”

Andrii is the Co-Founder and engineering mind behind Petiole. The idea came about when Andrii shared a room with a friend who was at the time working at the Institute of Evolutionary Ecology of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine. He was researching the influence of negative factors on Lombardy Poplar Trees. For this he had measured leaf area – but the whole process looked budget-friendly and unsophisticated – using a scanner, Photoshop, ImageJ via command line and data in Excel. Andrii wanted to help him and was convinced that he could find a more efficient, yet simple solution using a mobile phone.

To start with the Petiole app was of real interest to biologists, ecologists and other scientists who research plant morphology and plant physiology. It then attracted attention from the agro-chemistry industry and once they added chlorophyll measurement, the business gained real momentum and has had calls from big agrarian companies.