AgriTech firm Tropic Biosciences has completed a £22.5m Series B round of equity funding led by Singapore-based investment company Temasek.
The Norwich company’s crop products promote cultivation efficiencies, consumer health and sustainable environmental practices. The firm said the round was the largest ever seen in the UK AgriTech sector.
Since 2018 the firm has been in development of novel banana varieties that are resistant to Panama Disease, which threatens the entire banana industry.
Its gene-editing GEiGS technology is now in field trials in Latin America and South-east Asia.
Since the commercial launch of its GEiGS platform in March of last year, the firm has entered into service agreements with multiple global agribusinesses who are using the platform to develop disease resistance in plant crops, and in promoting animal welfare.
Tropic is also developing varieties of banana with longer shelf lives, alongside lines of coffee with reduced caffeine and increased solubility, all of which is designed to reduce chemical processing requirements in industries with a combined annual market value of over $50bn.
It will use the funds to accelerate its growth trajectory through field trials for its novel banana and coffee varieties; further commercialise its GEiGS platform; and develop high-impact traits in rice, adding this major staple crop to its product portfolio.
New investors for the Series B funding also include Sumitomo Corporation Europe, Genoa Ventures, Agronomics, and Skyviews Life Science.
To date, Tropic has raised a total equity investment of $40m.
“We are honored to welcome a new group of leading investors to our existing investor base, who continue to back our team and ambition through our Series B,” said CEO Gilad Gershon.
“Together we are taking another major step forward in building a leading seed business that addresses the unique needs of growers in tropical nations. Humanity’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly accelerating the need for technological solutions that promote food security on a global scale.
“We look forward to working with the public and our commercial partners, to deliver agricultural innovation where it is most needed, and to the people who would most benefit from it.”
Tropic plans to broaden its crop focus to include work on rice in 2020, a food staple which provides 3.5 billion people with over 20% of their daily calories.
The gene editing techniques that Tropic has developed in its work to date will be utilised to alleviate the impact of climate change on rice production, while maintaining the plant’s nutritional benefits, improving the lives of countless people who depend on the crop.
“We’ve been impressed with Tropic’s execution, progress and success since co-leading their Series A financing in 2018,” said Ben Belldegrun, Managing Partner at Pontifax AgTech.
“They continue to demonstrate leadership across tropical crop varieties and gene editing technologies. Tropic has secured impressive key commercial agreements that reinforce the importance of their work in creating tropical crops that are disease and pest resistant.”