Virginia Ursin's Indigo Agriculture Story


How does Indigo help to encourage a healthy lifestyle?

"Health and sustainable are embedded in everything we do as a company. The obvious are healthy lunches, but exercise class memberships, standing desks, reimbursement for using public transportation are all other examples. But less obvious are things like employee surveys that call for greater emphasis on healthy options, like more vegetarian food options, fewer disposables and push to keep Indigo on that track."

Virginia Ursin

What part does licensing play in Indigo operations?

"Indigo is committed to utilizing external alliances to extend our R&D capacity, expanding the sphere of innovation and really embedding in the scientific community. Licenses are a critical component to our alliance strategy. "

Virginia Ursin

What excites you about your company?

"Everything. I came from a big Ag company. Indigo is like having walked through the looking glass and being surrounded by continuous innovation, brilliance (did I mention we have some of the most brilliant people I have ever worked with here) and excitement. I have been in Ag my whole career and feel for the first time like I can make an actual impact."

Virginia Ursin

What unique skills have you developed over time in your role and at this company?

"I have developed very strong collaboration skills-and I am not referring to external collaborations. Internally we have tremendous inter-dependencies. Being able to move from concept through execution requires extensive collaboration with colleagues. The open format here facilitates that. I have also developed greater trust in my own decision-making and ability to execute without an extensive decision-making process."

Virginia Ursin

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

"My days are divided between managing existing collaborations, identifying new collaborators, getting those relationships off the ground, working on strategic initiatives with R&D leadership, interfacing with departments to ensure we are on a solid foundation. The best part of any day is interacting with my colleagues or collaborators. Fortunately, this is what I spend most of my time doing. "

Virginia Ursin

How is Indigo different from other agriculture companies?

"One of the key things that differentiates Indigo from other ag companies is the deep entrepreneurial spirit. As a young company, and as a start up, Indigo is able to respond quickly to changes in strategic objectives, for example the shift from being a provider of seed, to a full solution agricultural company rooted in IT. Our relatively small size gives us incredible agility. Our philosophy on external partnerships is also unique, and should prove to be a huge factor for our success. "

Virginia Ursin

What is the opportunity Indigo is pursuing and why are you excited about it?

"Indigo has set out to change the world. Agriculture is at the root (pun intended) of civilization. Choices and practices in agriculture impact almost every aspect of life as we know it. If Indigo can succeed in dramatically changing existing paradigms, like prioritizing farmer needs over input companies', the potential impacts are really beyond what we can comprehend. I believe we can start the next agricultural revolution."

Virginia Ursin

Why is collaboration fundamental to Indigo's success?

"Collaboration allows us to tap into the best work in the field and partner in its development towards commercial impact. We have found that many, if not all, academics we engage with are deeply committed to finding a way to benefit society. Our partnerships, our collaborations, are all set up to maximize that likelihood. So it's a win-win. Doing this well is an ongoing area of improvement and we depend on our partners to help us do it better than anyone else."

Virginia Ursin

What is your background and how did you end up in your current job?

"Long story! Short version is I began at one of the first ag biotech companies, Calgene, as a post-doc, then scientist. We were acquired by Monsanto in the late 1990's and I remained on as a scientist, then research program lead and science fellow, eventually moving into tech scouting and external alliance management. I chose to "retire" in 2016, and was introduced to Indigo by a former colleague. After a 3-week break, I arrived here in March of 2016, and have not caught my breath since!"

Virginia Ursin


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