UK – Tropic Biosciences, an agricultural-biotechnology company based in Norwich, England, has raised US$28.5 million in a Series B round of equity funding led by global investment company headquartered in Singapore, Temasek.
Tropic Biosciences is developing high-performance varieties of tropical crops products to promote cultivation efficiencies, consumer health, and sustainable environmental practices.
With the funding round, which counts as the largest ever funding in the UK AgriTech sector, Tropic said that it is poised to accelerate its growth trajectory through field trials for its novel banana and coffee varieties.
The company plans to use the proceeds in further commercializing its proprietary GEiGS technology platform and the development of high-impact traits in rice, adding this major staple crop to its product portfolio.
Tropic is focused on a crop portfolio of bananas and coffee, which have a combined annual market value of over US$50 billion and provide a source of livelihood for over half a billion people worldwide.
With these crops currently facing a wide range of critical challenges, from diseases and pests to climate change, Tropic is working with growers to address these major issues while at the same time promoting consumer wellbeing, positive grower economics, increasing crop stability and addressing unmet nutritional needs.
Since 2018, the company has been developing novel banana varieties that are resistant to Panama Disease (‘TR4’), which experts describe as an existential threat to the banana industry.
The agtech firm says that its proprietary GEiGS technology is instrumental in the ability to provide a pioneering solution to the disease and has been an enabling factor in its plan to transition to field trials in Latin America and South-east Asia.
In addition, Tropic revealed that it is also developing varieties of banana with longer shelf lives, alongside lines of coffee with reduced caffeine and increased solubility – all of which the company hopes will contribute to a significant reduction in chemical processing requirements.
Tropic has also unveiled plans of broadening 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 company seeks to utilise its proprietary gene editing techniques to alleviate the impact of climate change on rice production, while maintaining the plant’s nutritional benefits and improving the lives of people dependent on the crop.
Tropic’s promising technology in addressing food security related challenges has seen the company attract a dozen investors, who are seeking to support the agtech firm’s vision of transforming the multi-billion-dollar tropical agriculture industry.
To affirm this, the company looped in new investors in the Series B funding round including Sumitomo Corporation Europe, Genoa Ventures, Agronomics, Skyviews Life Science, in addition to Temasek.
Furthermore, Tropic revealed that all institutional investors from the 2018 Series A round, co-led by Pontifax AgTech and Five Seasons Ventures, participated in the Series B round including Tekfen Ventures, Emerald Technology Ventures, Bits x Bites and the UK Science & Innovation Seed Fund.
To date, the company has raised a total equity investment of US$40 million. “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 Gilad Gershon, CEO of Tropic Biosciences.
“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.”
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