Ag Biotech, which includes on-farm inputs for crop & animal ag including genetics, microbiome, breeding, animal health, cooled down in 2019 compared to prior years. Startups in the category raised $1.1 billion in funding, according to AgFunder’s Agri-FoodTech Investing Report, but deal activity dropped 22% year-over-year while dollar investment declined 33%. Despite the slow down, Ag Biotech was still one of the prevailing segments in seed stage activity and the most active upstream category indicating continued investor interest.
Gene editing took center stage with Inscripta and Inari leading the charts with the two top fundings for the year. Boulder, CO-based Inscripta completed two raises last year. The startup aims to democratize gene-editing by selling equipment to researchers and giving away enzymes for free. The Flagship-founded company brought in Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund, Asia’s EDBI, and Acre Venture Partners as investors in the round.
Novel crop protection technologies also showed growth last year with Provivi, Vstaron, AgroSavfe (now Biotalys), and Greenlight completing raises.
Here are the top 20 Ag Biotech deals of 2019:
- Inscripta raised a $125 million Series D from Paladin Capital Group. It’s developing the world’s first benchtop platform for scalable digital genome engineering
- Inari raised an $89 million Series C from Flagship Pioneering and Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund for its genomic tools including gene editing to improve global seed diversity.
- Provivi raised an $85 million Series C co-led by Pontifax Agtech and Singapore state fund Temasek for its pheromone-driven pesticide alternatives.
- PlantResponse Biotech completed a $77 million debt financing from two investors. It also merged with Koch Biological Solutions and acquired Pathway Logic in the first of a planned series of rollup deals to better position itself in the developing ag biologicals market.
- M2I Life Sciences raised a $66 million private equity round from Cibus Fund for its biological crop protection technologies.
- Greenlight Biosciences raised a $50 million Series E from S2G Ventures and Baird Capital for its technology focusing on the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels.
- Terramera raised a $45 million Series B from new investor Ospraie Ag Science and returning investor S2G Ventures for its mission to reduce chemical use in ag by 80%.
- Vestaron Corporation raised a $40 million Series B from Novo Holdings. It produces insecticides for agriculture, animal health, non-crop, and commercial pest control applications.
- AgroSavfe (now Biotalys) raised a $39 million Series C from Gimv for its proprietary Agrobody technology platform to develop crop protection products.
- DNA Script raised a $39 million Series B from Life Sciences Partners and Bpifrance for its technology focusing on the manufacturing of synthetic DNA using a proprietary template-free enzymatic technology.
- S&W Seed raised a $35 million post-IPO debt financing from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to continue supplying a range of forage, grain, and specialty crop products
- Benson Hill Biosystems raised a $33 million Series C from iSELECT Fund, Mercury Fund, and Lewis & Clark Investors for its crop genomics platform. It also acquired eMerge Genetics last year.
- Calysta Energy raised a $30 million Series E from BP Ventures. It develops a new biological gas-to-liquids (BioGTL) and biological gas-to-chemicals (BioGTC) technology using natural gas.
- Inscripta raised a $20 million Series C from Venrock, Paladin Capital Group, NanoDimension, Merieux Developpement, and Foresite Capital for it’s Z
- TerViva raised a $20 million Series D led by a diversified agricultural family office, Evans Properties, for its tree Pongamia tree planting company.
- Unibio International raised a $15 million private equity round from West Hill Capital for its bacterial fermentation technology targeting the animal feed sector.
- Duoning Biotech raised a $15 million Series A from WuXi Biologics and Ally Bridge Group for its serum-free medium and technology based on international animal cell culture concepts.
- An undisclosed $13million funding.
- Sistema Biobolsa raised a $12 million Series A from nine investors including Shell Foundation. It promotes biodigesters to promote sustainable agriculture. We transform manure into renewable energy and organic fertilizer.
- Ostara Nutrient Recovery raised an $11 million equity financing co-led by existing investors VantagePoint Capital Partners and the food-focused European family office Wheatsheaf Group for its nutrient management solutions.