Exclusive | Our mission is to bring commercial products to scale that can make an impact on the environment: Robert Luo, Co-founder & CEO Mi Terro

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1.3 billion tons of food in the world go to waste every year and 78 million tons of flexible plastic packaging film are created every year. Climate Change has certainly called for global attention to adapt circular economy. California-based agri-tech startup Mi Tarro is solving two of the biggest world problems by turning agricultural waste into plastic-alternative biomaterials.

Agrigate Global’s Saura Panigrahi spoke with Robert Luo, Co-Founder and CEO of Mi Terro, about his startup and the experience at The Sustainable Agtech Challenge brought to you by The Yield Lab Institute and UNEP.

Congratulations on making it to the Final-8 of The Sustainable Agtech Challenge by the Yield Lab Institute. How has the experience gone?

The experience has been good. Brandon and his team scheduled meetings with us to understand our needs and requests.

How would you like to introduce your startup/innovation? Tell us more about the core area of operations and your team.

Mi Terro is the world’s first synthetic biology and advanced material company that utilizes big data to create home compostable, single-use plastic-alternative packaging materials made from plant-based agricultural waste – this is a first-of-its-kind approach. We are excited to see such a significant leap forward in our ability to manipulate nature’s most diverse and abundant building blocks.

We have a team of serial entrepreneurs, Ph.D. material scientists, chemists, and marketing experts. Our team is made up of experienced scholars from Harvard University, University of Oxford, USC, Kansas State University, University of Washington, and Hong Kong Baptist University. We have a combined of 40 years of industrial experience. The team members have a collective of 12 patents.

The Agriculture Sector is very dynamic. What are the major challenges you are facing?

We are not turning agricultural waste into beverages or snacks like other companies. Instead, we are re-engineering plant-based agricultural waste to replace single-use plastic, glass, and paper materials and giving additional incomes to farmers all around the world.

In recent times, agri-tech has become one of the favorites for investors. What would be your pitch to a prospective investor?

We are replacing petroleum-based materials with plant protein made from agricultural waste. We are redefining the circular economy in which everything begins with agricultural waste and ends as compostable or biodegradable. Our mission is to bring commercial products to scale that can make an impact on the environment.

We’re looking for approaches that are not just as good as the plastics we aim to replace but also to create a compelling reason for customers to adopt the solution. We cannot rely purely on making a sustainability-led choice.

Agritech is booming with innovative ideas. What would be your advice to young entrepreneurs who would like to venture into this segment?

Build a great team, craft your ideas carefully, validate the ideas with customer discovery, and build an MVP as quickly as possible.

Finally, tell us more about your plans.

We will build a pilot production line next year to begin providing finished products to our clients. In addition to the material development successes, we will use artificial intelligence to detect and analyze thousands of inorganic polymers that best match the mechanical properties of conventional plastic. With a combination of protein and inorganic polymers, we will be able to create multiple plastic-alternative solutions that have low cost, high quality, and quick composability. We will open the A.I. platform to other companies so they can cut down research and development process time as well.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the views of Agrigate Global.