RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AgBiome LLC, a private company developing novel agricultural products to improve crop productivity, today announced that it has secured $14.5 million in Series A financing that will further advance the company’s research and development programs, and support the launch of the company’s first products. Polaris Partners led the round and was joined by ARCH Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Innotech Advisers, and additional strategic investors.
“AgBiome is focused on a significant opportunity to improve crop productivity, and the company’s leadership team has a proven track record in bringing innovative products to market,” said Polaris Partners’ Amir Nashat. “We are excited to be working with the AgBiome team again.”
The plant microbiome—the community of microorganisms associated with plants—plays a vital role in plant productivity, disease and pest resistance, and tolerance to environmental stress. AgBiome is identifying novel microbes useful for boosting productivity of crop plants, as well as new useful genes from those microbes.
“Microbes associated with agriculture ecosystems are a nearly infinite source of useful new genes and biologicals,” said AgBiome Chief Scientific Officer Dan Tomso. “AgBiome aims to become the world leader in agricultural discovery centered around these resources.”
AgBiome was founded by world leaders in the field of the plant microbiome and seasoned executives from the agriculture industry. The founders include Jeff Dangl, HHMI Investigator and John N. Couch Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Paul Schulze-Lefert, Director, Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding, Cologne, Germany. Both Prof. Dangl and Prof. Schulze-Lefert serve on the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. Scott Uknes and Eric Ward, co-CEOs of AgBiome, each have 25 years of experience in the agricultural biotechnology industry. Dr. Uknes was a co-founder of Paradigm Genetics and Cropsolution and most recently served in a senior role at Bayer CropScience after the acquisition of Athenix, where he was vice president of business development. Dr. Ward was co-President of Ag Biotech for Novartis in Research Triangle Park, was a co-founder of Cropsolution, and until year end was President of Two Blades Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to developing crop disease resistance.
“AgBiome has assembled the best team, investors, technology and market know-how to position the company for success,” said AgBiome co-founder John Ryals, who is also the CEO of Metabolon. Mike Koziel, AgBiome co-founder and CEO of Xinehta added, “this is the first time to our knowledge that several major agriculture companies have co-invested at an early stage in an Ag biotech company. Their involvement creates an excellent starting point for future collaborations and market access.”
Serving on the company’s board of directors are Amir Nashat (Polaris Partners), Kristina Burow (ARCH), Misti Ushio (Harris & Harris), John Ryals (AgBiome Co-Founder and CEO Metabolon), Mike Koziel (AgBiome Founder and CEO Xinehta), Eric Ward (Co-Founder and Co-CEO AgBiome) and Scott Uknes (Co-Founder and Co-CEO Agbiome).
AgBiome is a privately held, product-oriented biotechnology company focused on delivering the best early-stage research and discovery to the agriculture industry. AgBiome’s first product is a biological that controls the predominant soil-borne diseases of greenhouse and major row crops. AgBiome is also applying state-of-the-art genomics and screening technologies to identify plant-associated microbes that enhance plant health, pest resistance and yield. We are committed to developing and maintaining a team-oriented, creative, intellectual culture that provides a sustainable advantage for our partners and us. For more information or to apply for an exciting career at AgBiome, please visit www.agbiome.com.