Research Foundation News

January 31, 2020

Purdue Ag-celerator invests $100,000 in two plant science startups

ebert-vinsense VinSense, a company assisting in wine grape agriculture through Purdue-patented technology, received an investment from the Purdue Ag-celerator. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue Ag-celerator has invested a total of $100,000 in two plant science startups for the fall round of investments.

The recipients are VinSense, a company assisting in wine grape agriculture through Purdue-patented technology, and Karyosoft, a genomics data analytics company empowering biologists for rapid data mining through just a few clicks proprietary platform to accelerate innovations.

“The goal of this fund is to help Purdue agricultural entrepreneurs commercialize their innovations,” said John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures. “Now in its fifth year, the Ag-celerator has contributed to the success of plant science startups advancing their technologies quickly.”

Both startups presented their technology to the Ag-celerator Selection Committee, which includes entrepreneurial and industry professionals from Purdue and beyond. VinSense and Karyosoft each received $50,000 in funding. The Selection Committee for this round was bolstered by four venture capitalists: Mark White from Prairie Crest Capital; Pat Morand from Open Prairie; Kieran Furlong from Finistere Ventures; and Matt Plummer from The Yield Lab.

The Purdue Ag-celerator was founded jointly by Purdue Ventures, Purdue Foundry and Purdue’s College of Agriculture in 2015.

rajesh-karyosoft Rajesh Perianayagam founded Karyosoft, a genomics data analytics company, which received an investment from the Purdue Ag-celerator. (Image provided) Download image

David Ebert, the Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue, and Christian Butzke, a professor of food science at Purdue, co-founded VinSense. The company, which designs software and performs in-field analysis to help growers with perennial crops, licensed its technology through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. VinSense also helps wine grape growers and winemakers improve crop quality and sustainability.

“This award provides crucial funding to help with technology development and bringing key talent to our team,” said Maddy Houghton, CEO of VinSense. “Our customers continue to demand more from us, and the support from Ag-celerator helps ensure our ability to meet and exceed those demands.”

VinSense is also one of the nine high-growth businesses selected for the Purdue Foundry’s Double Down Experiment, a program designed to help the businesses move to the next level of success.

Karyosoft made significant progress in 2019 in terms of product development, team expansion and increased traction. The company made the software platform intelligent by incorporating natural language processing.

“We are honored and privileged to win this competitive and prestigious competition focused on novel innovations impacting agriculture,” said Rajesh Perianayagam, founder and CEO of Karyosoft. “This investment will help us to reach the next milestones in our sales and marketing effort by amplifying visibility and broadening and deepening the sales funnel to generate revenue.”

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, 

John Hanak,

Maddy Houghton,

Rajesh Perianayagam,

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