SAP Startup Spotlight Series: Solena
Irving Rivera's entrepreneurial journey began in 2015 when he co-founded a pioneering biofertilizer company, leveraging cutting-edge agricultural residue fermentation techniques. Fueled by a deep understanding of the agricultural sector and a keen awareness of food production challenges, in 2017, he shifted his focus to a paramount issue: the health of agricultural soils.
Irving has since served as a bridge, uniting various stakeholders along the food production chain, and harnessing the power of soil and its microbiome as a unifying force. His contributions have earned recognition from esteemed sources, including Forbes Mexico's "30 Under 30" and MIT Technology Review's "Innovator Under 35." Irving's insights into soil conservation have led to collaborations with tech giants like Apple, Google, and SAP.
Irving Rivera, Founder and CEO, Solena
1. What does Solena offer?
Solena is a biotechnology company focused on agricultural soils. We read soil DNA through a process called next gen sequencing. Through this technology we can better understand the components of the microbiome, such as the relationship between communities of bacteria, fungi and so on, which affects all aspects of the crop, because these factors can lead to poor crop quality. Solena attempts to make this available to the whole community through our partners and allies.
The type of data we can generate is information ranging from detection of common plant pathogens and emerging pathogens to productivity parameters related to nutrient solubilization and utilization. In addition, we can interpret microbiome DNA to understand soil properties and capabilities related to sustainability such as carbon fixation and water retention.
By incorporating AI into next-generation sequencing, our goal is to be able to control soil behavior in agricultural production from the components within the soil.
2. How does your solution work?
Solena works with two types of industries: Food and agrochemical. Solena has partners who continuously collect soil samples in areas of interest. Through them we receive information that we then structure and package to send to suppliers.
Now we can define what is healthy soil and what is not. That's what we do: We have the data, and we help suppliers get the information they need to know their soil better.
As far as agrochemicals are concerned, soil health is not enough. It is important to be able to tell the farmer how he can improve, what he can do to improve productivity and sustainability. This is necessary in order to prescribe products and inputs to improve productivity.
This is how we define the impact on the system. We unite the two industries, which are normally separate, in the same core, namely the soil.
3. Do your customers need special technologies/devices to use your service?
No, actually they don't. They just need to be in a system, such as SAP’s BTP, that allows them to make better use of information to control their supply chain. We complement the system with the information that the suppliers provide us.
4. Why did you found Solena?
A couple of years ago in 2017 I came from a career in biotechnology and solutions. When I left, I realized that the industry desperately needs to know the state of their soil. Soils have complexity—different components such as bacteria, viruses, among others.
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 50 percent of the world's soils are degraded or in the process of being degraded. The world needs to know this information.
Our approach is to remove this variability and use state-of-the-art technology to generate appropriate metrics for the productive and sustainable part and for customized elements. We seek to unite these two points, both food and agrochemicals, on a core point such as the soil.
5. how are you connected to SAP? Can your solution be integrated with SAP systems? And if so, how?
Yes, we are connected to SAP. SAP is the number one food platform worldwide. Today they can measure many productive and agricultural variables, but they have not been able to measure the biological part of the soil.
Our solutions can be integrated into SAP systems. We work with BTP, so anyone who has BTP can access the data that Solena provides on the soil microbiome.
6. How has SAP.iO's involvement influenced your career?
In a very positive and significant way because we have been able to access the food industry. SAP has allowed Solena to develop an international presence. Through SAP, we now have presence within the North American market, as well as in Europe and Africa.
7. What does the future hold for Solena?
We are looking to continue increasing our presence in more practices. We undoubtedly believe that the future is based on soil conservation and that is based on information. Our product is called Prometeo and it reads significant DNA at the agricultural level. We are looking to prescribe solutions globally through Prometeo.
We are excited to see what the future holds in store for Solena! You can share your questions, comments, and concerns in the comments section below. If you would like to see more from this series, check out our previous article..