Tropic Biosciences raises $28.5 million Series B financing to transform the massive tropical agriculture industry
NORWICH, UK 4 June 2020: Tropic Biosciences (“Tropic”), the pioneering agricultural-biotechnology company dedicated to the development of high-performance varieties of tropical crops, has successfully completed a $28.5 million Series B round of equity funding, led by Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore.
Tropic’s crop products promote cultivation efficiencies, consumer health, and sustainable environmental practices. Proceeds from the largest ever funding in the UK AgriTech sector will accelerate Tropic’s growth trajectory through field trials for its novel banana and coffee varieties; further commercialization of its proprietary GEiGS™ technology platform; and the development of 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. All institutional investors from the 2018 Series A, 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, Tropic has raised a total equity investment of $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.”
Tropic is focused on a crop portfolio of bananas and coffee, which have a combined annual market value of over $50 billion and provide a source of livelihood for over half a billion people worldwide. These massive crops currently face a wide range of critical challenges, from diseases and pests to climate change. Tropic is working closely with growers to address these major issues and, in doing so, promotes consumer wellbeing and positive grower economics, while increasing crop stability and addressing unmet nutritional needs.
Since 2018, Tropic has been taking a leadership role in the development of novel banana varieties that are resistant to Panama Disease (‘TR4’), which experts describe as an existential threat to the banana industry. Its proprietary GEiGS™ technology is instrumental in Tropic’s 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. Tropic is also developing varieties of banana with longer shelf lives, alongside lines of coffee with reduced caffeine and increased solubility; all of which contribute to a significant reduction in chemical processing requirements.
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.”
Since the commercial launch of its GEiGS™ technology platform in March 2019, Tropic has entered into service agreements with multiple leading global agribusinesses who are using the platform to develop disease resistance in plant crops, and in promoting animal welfare. Using funds from the Series B round, Tropic will further enhance the technology platform and scale it for use by a growing number of clients across a variety of agricultural segments.