Redag Crop Protection, an ag chemical discovery company, has secured $2 million in funding from existing investors Enterprise Ventures and Seneca Partners, a startup funding firm. Manchester-based corporate finance boutique Acceleris Capital arranged the funding.
Redag spun out of parent company Redx Pharma in 2014 to focus on manufacturing pesticides. The demerger was funded by a round also arranged by Acceleris Capital and reaching seven figures, according to a press release. Redag products are licensed to agrochemical companies that also collaborate with the startup to ensure its new compounds suit their own needs.
Redag claims to offer a novel chemistry approach, which reduces development times, reduces redundancy in testing, and reduces the cost of the discovery-to-market cycle.
According to Bill Thompson, Redag Crop Protection’s CEO, the standalone entity came to fruition to exploit the ‘Redox Switch’ approach to discovery in agrochemicals and raised funding to prove the concept and build a small team of chemists to discover novel active compounds for licensing.
With the new round of funding, Redag will create up to 20 new science jobs at its Alderley Park life science complex in Cheshire, including establishing more office and laboratory space, helping to continue its work fostering best-in-class crop protection products for the agrochemical industry.
Redag wants to recruit some breadth and depth to its current board and management team, as it will be adding a chief operating officer and two non-executive directors.
“Following a year of success in discovering these active compounds, protecting the IP and getting our first collaboration in place with one of the top 10 players in the industry, the current fund raise enables us to expand our capabilities in chemistry, biology and strengthen both the board and management at executive and non-executive level as part of our strategy for growth,” Thompson said.
Most startups active in the crop input space currently focus on biological products — according to AgFunder’s 2015 AgTech Investment Report, companies manufacturing biological inputs raised $120 million across 20 deals. That’s 71 percent of the soil & crop technology subsector’s $168 million total for the year, so it’s rare to see a startup focusing on chemicals.
Biological input companies have also raised funding from increasingly high profile investors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
So what does Bill Thompson, CEO of Redag think about this potentially competitive arena for chemical-based inputs?
“The need to feed an ever-growing population globally is one which we are an active part of, and while there is an increasing interest in biologicals as a means to achieve this all, estimates continue to forecast that this will be a part of the solution not it’s entire solution,” he told AgFunderNews.
There’s still plenty of room for innovation in agrochemical science too, he added. According to Redag, the crop protection industry normally spends $250 million over a 9-year period testing up to 140,000 candidate compounds in order to bring a single new product to market. Redag’s Redox Switch platform has allowed it to secure novel intellectual property around existing best-in-class products through the preparation of new compounds that are one or more oxidation state removed from the original.
Thompson added that the industry has seen a declining number of compounds in development, and an increasing number of compounds being deregistered or withdrawn for health, safety or environmental reasons.
“Right across the industry there is a strategic need for new compounds to replace the older compounds,” he said, explaining it could be in providing greater safety or new modes of action. “Redag Crop will play its part as the engine of discovery. We will continue to do what we do best and grow our business to provide competitive solutions for our industry partners.”
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