Invaio Sciences has raised $88.9 million in a Series C round led by venture builder Flagship Pioneering, which launched the startup in 2018. Other investors joining the round include Stage 1 Ventures, Bluwave Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments, among others.
The funding brings Invaio’s total capital raised to over $142 million since launching in 2018.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup is aiming to tackle a variety of crop health challenges for the perennial, row crop, and vegetable industries by combining a variety of technologies and approaches.
As an example, to treat and prevent the spread of citrus greening disease in citrus trees, Invaio is integrating an active ingredient — a natural peptide — with a physical delivery system in the form of 3D-printed injection tips which are designed to deliver biomolecules into the crop’s vascular system.
Growers will be able to use this targeted, physical delivery system to inject inputs into crops, rather than spraying chemicals on them and the surrounding environment.
Alongside citrus greening disease, Invaio is combating Xylella fastidiosa in olive farming, while also working on a new carbon-focused product for its perennial customers.
“We are going to focus on the perennial segment then we are going directly to growers. Obviously, the story in vegetables and row crops is different and we are putting those studies together as we speak,” president and CEO Ignacio Martinez told AFN.
The startup will use the new funding for additional R&D investment as well as building out its team, he said.
Invaio has focused on R&D for the last three years and is now transitioning into commercialization, with the aim of having products on the market by the end of 2022.
Last week, it announced a partnership with Brazil’s Fundecitrus (Fund for Citrus Protection) – an association of citrus growers and fruit juice businesses working on the sustainable development of São Paulo state’s citrus industry. The collaboration is geared towards trialing the startup’s novel natural peptide to combat citrus greening disease in the region.
Invaio also working with Agroscope, Switzerland’s federal ag research institute, to develop precision injection in apples and grapes with the objective of reducing pesticide spraying in orchards and vineyards.
Flagship Pioneering — which claims to have deployed over $2.3 billion in capital towards the founding and growth of companies, with $19 billion in follow-on investments — has placed a number of its chips on the ag biotech table.
One of its biggest spin-outs is Indigo Ag, which offers farmer-focused services in verticals including biological inputs as well as carbon trading, grain marketing, and logistics.
Flagship also launched Inari, which aims to transform plant breeding using CRISPR gene-editing technology.
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