Success Stories

Thriving where you’re planted

Maybe you were the tall one in your family. Maybe you were more academically gifted or had the best
eyesight.


Much like the animal kingdom, plant strains can develop different attributes. Two rice plants grown in
two different areas may look alike, but one could be better at growing tall, or producing more grains, or
withstanding drought conditions.


Performance Plants works with seed companies around the world to refine and enhance crop plants to
ultimately produce greater yields for farmers.


“It’s like training for a professional athlete,” explains Dr. Yafan Huang, the CEO of Performance Plants.
“We work with the plant to build on its strengths and turn them into super plants.”


To do this, the plant biotechnology company will study the tens of thousands of genes in a plant and
identify the gene or genes responsible for governing the characteristics they want to alter.


It takes a lot of time, expertise, testing, and funding to successfully make a positive change. Fortunately,
the company’s handiwork is increasingly in demand these days particularly as farmers look to insulate
their crops against climate change.


“One of the ways to combat climate change is by changing our consumption habits, but another,
sometimes overlooked, way is to produce more with less resources,” he says. “If we can increase crop
yields while also helping the crops survive difficult weather, we can better secure our food.”


Performance Plants works with several clients around the world, including in Asia where its focus is on
rice, wheat, cotton, and soybean crops.


“The next five years will be the most exciting five years for us,” adds Dr. Huang. “We have established
many commercial agreements over the last decade and are capitalizing on those agreements with
collaborators and seed companies around the world to bring our product to market.”


While the company enjoys national support and international success, it all comes back to Kingston –
the technology behind Performance Plants started as research by some Queen’s University professors.


“The city itself has also been very supportive,” he adds. “Kingston has the best location in order to
attract talent – even better than a big city. We need a quiet place with a lot of talent, and Kingston has
that.”