St. Louis is one of the nation’s vibrant centers for innovation, with several leading companies and entrepreneurs in the tech space calling the city home. Matt Crisp, the CEO and co-founder of Benson Hill is one of many pioneers building a successful business in the city. Established ten years ago, Benson Hill is a food tech company that works to improve food’s quality, nutrition, and sustainability through advanced technology. Tech STL recently caught up with Matt Crisp to discuss his incredible journey of creating this St. Louis-based food tech company and how it leads innovation in the agri-food industry.

Benson Hill went public about a year ago and has experienced steady growth. Their success continues to be fueled by the crop operating system, or CropOS®, a technology platform that helps crops become more nutritious, sustainable, and appealing. CropOS® uses predictive breeding, phenotyping, and environmental modeling algorithms to produce highly productive, nutrient-rich, and more sustainable crops. Crisp clarified, “when we say better, what we mean is more nutritious, are nutrient-dense, more sustainable, more flavorful. And so that has attributes that the end-consumer or the end-user actually desires rather than just focus on quantity and yield, which is what the principal focus has been in the agri-food system and on seed development historically.” 

There is a growing demand for plant-based proteins, and Benson Hill has positioned itself perfectly to take advantage of that. Crisp and his team have recently secured impressive collaborations in the US and abroad. One example is a partnership with BioMar, a Northern European supplier of aquaculture feed. BioMar is an international leader in fish and shrimp feed production dedicated to sustainably developing aquaculture. The partnerships with companies in Europe are a great example of how companies in STL can expand their businesses internationally and create new market opportunities globally. The mission of Benson Hill is to create and innovate more sustainable and healthier farming practices, while also creating value in the process.

Benson Hill is determined to create a better future for food and feed production in the world. Their mission focuses on creating more sustainable and nutritious ingredients, with technology and data playing a pivotal role in their success. As a vertically integrated tech company, data informs the production process to develop and utilize better crop varieties. By working with their farmer partners, they can grow a crop that is already highly protein-concentrated and has a low anti-nutrient profile. This is an effort to eliminate the wasteful and energy-intensive processing steps used in traditional agri-food industries. ”So when I say more sustainable, that’s not just a buzzword, it’s actually quantifiable, you know, seventy-plus percent reduction in water eighty-nine-plus percent reduction in CO₂ emissions.” 

This innovation is paying off; not only are Benson Hill’s customers happy, but farmers are also profiting. US farmers in the midwest are excited to engage in a new market. Crisp explained, “This is a new, exciting opportunity, a high-value opportunity, where we can create more value and actually bring that back to the farm. So our farmer partners are enjoying more profitability per acre, our customers are enjoying as good or better product for the same or less cost, and we at Benson Hill can have a nice margin profile in the middle.” 

At the heart of Benson Hill’s operations is data. Data helps the company target specific needs in food production and nutrition and provides insight into how to produce more sustainable products. “The technology is enabling us to create these products, these varieties of crops, but ultimately, turn them into something that’s got really valuable properties for those end-users,” says Crisp. The technology utilized by Benson Hill is truly remarkable. The data collected through AI and other data techniques help to create a feedback loop that enables them to continuously improve upon existing crop varieties, creating ones that are stronger and more efficient. 

Matt Crisp is an inspirational co-founder and innovator. He has been dedicated to establishing Benson Hill as a leading food tech company, driving innovation in the agri-food industry. He leads with a forward-thinking mindset and passion for making the world a healthier and more sustainable place. His commitment to sustainability and determination to create a better food future has earned him the respect of his customers, partners, and the larger tech community.

It is great to see a St Louis-based tech company work to make such an impact in the food tech space, both locally and abroad. Benson Hill is a great example of the potential of technology to open up new market opportunities and generate more sustainable products. With Crisp and team at the helm, St. Louis will continue to be at the forefront of the tech industry. 

Meet Benson Hill

Benson Hill moves food forward with the CropOS® platform, a cutting-edge food innovation engine that combines data science and machine learning with biology and genetics. Benson Hill empowers innovators to unlock nature’s genetic diversity from plant to plate, with the purpose of creating healthier, great-tasting food and ingredient options that are both widely accessible and sustainable.

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