AgBiome Harvests $65 Million Financing Round
Research Triangle Park-based AgBiome, which harnesses plant microbiomes to develop novel crop protection products, has secured $65 million in Series C financing.
The investment group includes The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), Fidelity Management and Research Company, Polaris Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Innotech Advisers, Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund, and Monsanto Growth Ventures. The round included a total of 17 investors.
The company, a 2013 spinout from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, raised $34.5 million in 2015. It has also received investments form Harris and Harris Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
AgBiome uses the plant microbiome to identify and develop genetic traits that provide resistance to pests. Its Genesis platform screens trillions of microbes, millions of gene sequences, and thousands of strains. It has discovered 3,500 new insect control genes and 200 active lead strains.
Its products via AgBiome Innovations, a subsidiary founded in 2015 by AgBiome to manage the commercialization of its biological products, include “Howler,” a fungicide that has long-lasting activity on a broad spectrum of soilborne and foliar plant diseases. It can be used at every phase of production, from greenhouse to harvest. It’s used on strawberry, vegetable, blueberry and tobacco crops.
Another, Alomar, provides immediate and long-lasting residual control from sucking and chewing insects on a broad range of crops. The active ingredient works on contact and through ingestion to control harmful insects at all life stages.
Former Bayer CropScience executive Scott Uknes, co-CEO and board member of AgBiome, called the funding “a watershed moment for AgBiome, and for agriculture. The support from UTIMCO, Fidelity, Polaris, Arch and other investors allows us to realize our vision to be the leading innovator in agriculture.”
Amir Nashat, managing partner of Polaris Partners and a member of AgBiome's board, added, “Polaris is delighted to participate in and support AgBiome's tremendous progress. This financing round will accelerate the company's trajectory to become the leading solution-based innovator in crop protection."
John Rabby, commercial director of AgBiome Innovations, said in the announcement that the investment “enables AgBiome to develop markets for Howler and products that consist of combinations of biologicals and chemicals. These products will allow for the reduced use of necessary chemicals along with high efficacy that agriculture needs. This is a game-changing technology for agriculture.”
Rabby also serves as chairman of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s board of directors.