Terramera Leads Collaborative Effort to Predict New COVID-19 Virus Strains With Machine Learning and AI

June 11, 2020

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Few would expect the science behind stopping the next wave of COVID-19 to come from an AgTech company on a mission to reduce global pesticide loads but Terramera’s computational chemistry, machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) innovations are being called upon for just that purpose. Today, Terrameraannounced its leadership of a collaborative project within Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster (“Supercluster”) to predict COVID-19 virus variations before they emerge.

Pictured from left to right: Sue Paish, CEO Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster; Karn Manhas, Founder & CEO Terramera; the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and Annett Rozek, Chief Scientific Officer Terramera at Terramera’s lab in Vancouver. (Photo: Business Wire)

Terramera’s leadership in computational biochemistry and ML/AI led the federal government to back this unique research collaborative with $1.8M in initial funding. Working with world-class partners including Microsoft and the University of British Columbia, Terramera will deliver computational models to identify and combat future mutants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Other project partners include Menten AI, ProMIS Neurosciences and D-Wave.

“We love to take on so-called ‘impossible’ challenges that no one expects and succeed,” said Terramera CEO and Founder, Karn Manhas. “This is an enormous opportunity to harness complementary areas of cutting-edge science across industry and academia. Working together, we can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems, from sustainable food production to treatments for COVID, with novel predictive technologies.”

Terramera’s predictive technology forecasts successful combinations of the company’s revolutionary Actigate™ technology with active ingredients to lower the world’s synthetic pesticide use 80% by 2030. Its powerful artificial intelligence core will play a central role in the project. All AgTech operations and research will continue as usual while Terramera leads this project.

“Viruses are always changing, and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception,” said Dr. Steven Slater, Terramera’s lead scientist on the project and VP of Strategic Initiatives. “Instead of playing catch-up again as another wave wraps around the world, we’ll predict likely new strains with our machine learning models, and then we’ll pre-design medicines and therapies to stop future pandemics.”

Manhas and Slater expressed their gratitude to the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), and the Supercluster for their global leadership and support in tackling COVID-19 forecasting.

About Terramera

Terramera is a global AgTech leader fusing science, nature and artificial intelligence to transform how food is grown and the economics of agriculture in the next decade. With its revolutionary Actigate™ technology platform, which was recognized by Fast Company as a 2020 World Changing Idea, Terramera is committed to reducing the global synthetic pesticide load 80% by 2030 to protect plant and human health and ensure an earth that thrives and provides for everyone. The privately-held, venture-backed company was founded in 2010 and has grown to include a world-class bench of engineers, scientists, advisors and investors. Terramera is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with integrated operations in Canada, the US and India that include research labs, a greenhouse and farm, and more than 200 patents in its global IP portfolio. For more information, please visit terramera.com

About Digital Technology Supercluster

The Digital Technology Supercluster solves some of industry’s and society’s biggest problems through Canadian-made technologies. We bring together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including healthcare, natural resources, manufacturing and transportation. Through this ‘collaborative innovation’ the Supercluster helps to drive solutions better than any single organization could on its own. The Digital Technology Supercluster is led by industry leaders such as D-Wave, Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, LifeLabs, LlamaZOO, Lululemon, MDA, Microsoft, Mosaic Forest Management, Sanctuary AI, Teck Resources Limited, TELUS, Terramera, and 1Qbit. Together, we work to position Canada as a global hub for digital innovation. A full list of Members can be found here.

About the COVID-19 Program:

The COVID-19 Program aims to improve the health and safety of Canadians and support Canada’s ability to address issues created by the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, the program will build expertise and capacity to anticipate and address issues that may arise in future health crises, from healthcare to a return to work and community. More information can be found here.


Laura McIntyre
Director, Communications | Terramera

For Digital Technology Supercluster related media inquiries:
Elysa Darling