Flagship VentureLabs, an offshoot of Flagship Ventures, just unveiled Symbiota, a company that they’ve been developing in stealth mode for the past two years with $7.5 million in financing from Flagship Ventures. Symbiota has developed microbial solutions that naturally promote plant health and improve agricultural production by harnessing the beneficial microbes that reside within plants. The company reports that it has built a substantial discovery platform and advanced multiple products into greenhouse and field trials in globally important crops including corn, soy, wheat, cotton and vegetables.
Symbiota is based on the recognition that the plant’s internal microbiome is critical to plant health and yield. The company is developing products that form symbiotic partnerships with plants to support healthier, more stress tolerant crops. This new way of naturally, non-genetically boosting crop performance is beneficial to plants and the environment, cost-effective and compatible with all farming practices.
“In a short period of time, we have made several big discoveries in the plant microbiome that have led to rapid product development opportunities, field results and a powerful intellectual property estate,” said Dr. Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Symbiota Co-Founder and President and Flagship VentureLabs Partner. “Symbiota has attracted an extraordinary team of the world’s experts in agriculture, microbiome science, and plant biology to lead this new field.”
Adding to Symbiota’s leadership, industry veteran and Flagship Venture Partner Dr. Robert Berendes, former Global Head of Business Development at Syngenta, has recently been appointed as Executive Chairman. At Syngenta, Dr. Berendes held executive roles including Head of Diverse Field Crops and Head of Strategy, Planning and M&A. Prior to Syngenta, Dr. Berendes was partner and co-leader of the European chemical practice at McKinsey & Company.
“I am very excited to be joining Symbiota, which is the only company leveraging the plant microbiome in a manner that can produce breakthrough agricultural products,” said Dr. Berendes. “Symbiota’s technology is one-of-a-kind and built upon a strong scientific foundation that allows for the development of products that act in symbiosis with plants to offer a step change in crop performance without genetic manipulations.”
Symbiota was founded by the Flagship Ventures innovation foundry, VentureLabs, where its R&D was initiated in 2012. VentureLabs has been actively exploring the microbiome since 2007 and has used its unique understanding of the human microbiome to drive Symbiota’s groundbreaking approach to product discovery.
“Leveraging VentureLabs’ extensive experience in the human microbiome has enabled Symbiota to quickly translate its insights into practical applications, resulting in a pipeline of validated product candidates,” said Dr. David Berry, Co-Founder and Board Member, Symbiota and Partner at Flagship Ventures.
“Symbiota is an example of the tremendous opportunity we see at Flagship for new innovation in agriculture,” said Ignacio Martinez, Symbiota Board Member and Partner at Flagship Venture, and former MD at Syngenta Ventures. “The company has the ability to make a sustainable positive impact on farm operations for a wide range of growers.”
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Thanks to Gabriel Wilmoth at Syngenta Ventures for the tip!
IMAGE Courtsey of Modern Farmer. Flagged for Reuse