Startup Launches Next-Generation Environmental Sensor Platform

Agrela Ecosystems - a startup started by Nadia Shakoor, PhD, principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center - has recently announced the pilot launch of its flagship product, PheNode®.

Startup Launches Next-Generation Environmental Sensor Platform

Image Credit: New Africa/

This marks the first step towards a full-scale commercial release set for 2025.

PheNode is an advanced, scalable environmental sensor platform that has been created to empower users with customizable data collection and the rapid integration of new technologies. The platform is already being used to collect data and generate customer feedback, preparing to revolutionize the field with its optimized, modular sensor technology.

When it comes to aligning the principles of Industry 4.0, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution characterized by smart systems and digitization, PheNode utilizes cutting-edge technology to redefine the standards of data collection, opening up countless opportunities for innovation and development in various sectors.

PheNode already has a wide-ranging customer base, from the Taylor Geospatial Institute at Saint Louis University to the internationally renowned Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative in San Diego, CA.

The Danforth Center, for example, is using PheNode technology to gather vital data from its Creve Coeur campus and St. Charles-based field research site.

PheNode is also set to play a crucial role in community projects. In partnership with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition Innovation Center and the University of Illinois Extension, PheNode will be a huge part of the USDA NIFA-funded FANE Summer Camp initiative.

This innovative project has been trying to ignite young minds' passion towards agricultural and food technologies, highlighting the transformative impact such advancements can have on the world.

Despite being in its nascent pilot phase, Agrela has already recorded a massive $250,000 in revenue via the sales of its groundbreaking PheNode technology and related services. This initial traction strengthens the conviction that they could fulfill a persistent market gap.

The founders of Agrela Ecosystems’ visualize a shift from traditional “closed” sensor platforms to a highly inclusive “open platform.” This sets the stage for methods that will allow the swift integration of rising technologies throughout several climate-smart industries, like advanced crop modeling and real-time carbon measurements.

Securing key partnerships with early adopters is fundamental to our journey, providing an essential feedback loop that drives us to fine-tune our dynamic data collection solutions. Our mission is to continuously adapt to our users requirements while upholding our commitment to data accuracy and transparency.

Nadia Shakoor, PhD, Study Principal Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

The initial seed funding for Agrela Ecosystems was provided by BioGenerator and the Danforth Technology Company.

Agrela’s President, Bill Kezele, celebrates this achievement, remarking, “The Danforth Technology Company and BioGenerator recognized the potential of PheNode, which served as a stepping stone to our early success. This support enables us to publicly share our efforts with those who can benefit now as we continue enhancing the system and expanding into new markets.

Agrela firmly believes in the importance of accurate, research-grade data, and is committed to offering quality products and services. Our aim is to embolden users, channeling PheNode’s environmental data into their chosen platforms for analysis and visualization. In doing so, we are enabling them to create tailor-made data collection tools that better align with their unique requirements.

Nadia Shakoor, PhD, Study Principal Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

While originally being developed to fulfill quantitative gaps in remote field phenotyping, PheNode also has proven to effectively fulfill the increasing demand for scalable and customizable data capture throughout a wide spectrum of industries.

Such industries include fixed sectors as well as rapidly emerging fields like sustainability initiatives, geospatial industry, and smart infrastructure. With its adaptability, PheNode is set to satisfy the various data-collection demands of several industries and drive significant and transformative progress.


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