New Norwich Research Park occupier, Tropic Biosciences, a pioneering leader in the development of new plant varieties in the massive tropical agriculture industry using CRISPR Gene Editing, is proud to announce the close of its $10 million Series A funding round. Proceeds from the round will support the commercialisation of the company’s novel non-GMO coffee and banana varieties and allow its global expansion into additional promising crop segments.
Tropic Biosciences is a biotechnology company focused on utilising advanced plant breeding and gene editing technologies to develop high-performing commercial tropical crops, namely coffee and bananas. It employs 17 industry-leading professionals and having spent 18 months located at the John Innes Centre the company is now headquartered at the Innovation Centre on Norwich Research Park where it continues to have access to cutting-edge equipment and a highly qualified workforce.
The company was founded in 2016 by a team of highly experienced entrepreneurs and researchers including Gilad Gershon, an experienced AgriTech private equity investor and entrepreneur; and Dr. Eyal Maori, scientific co-founder of Beelogics, which was acquired by Monsanto in 2013; and Dr Ofir Meir, former Director of R&D in the Crop Protection Division at Evogene.
Series A fundraising was led by Pontifax AgTech, a leading growth capital investor in the global food and agriculture technology sector, and by Five Seasons Ventures. Pontifax and Five Seasons Ventures are joined by several experienced co-investors, including, Tekfen Ventures, Emerald Technology Ventures, Bits x Bites, Midven-RSF and the Family Offices of Mr Gigi Levy-Weiss and Mr Antonio Moreira Salles.
The value-added novel plant varieties developed by Tropic Biosciences have enormous potential to promote consumer wellbeing and grower economics, increase crop stability, and address unmet nutritional needs within the global coffee and banana industries. These industries have a combined market value of over $50 billion and are critical to over half a billion people worldwide.
Dr David Lawrence, former Head of R&D at Syngenta and Board Member of Tropic Biosciences, commented: “Tropic Biosciences is the first company to successfully utilise gene editing in developing high-performing, non-GMO commercial varieties of coffee and bananas with benefits for both consumer wellbeing and grower economics. I am delighted to be involved with Tropic Biosciences team and their ground-breaking work.”
Funds from the Series A offering will support the commercialisation of Tropic Biosciences’ proprietary novel plant traits through extensive greenhouse and field trials. The funds will also enable the company to drive regulatory approval processes for these plant varieties, continue developing proprietary technologies for use in the development of novel plant varieties, and expand its efforts to additional, globally critical crop varieties beyond coffee and bananas.
Gilad Gershon and Dr Eyal Maori, the CEO and CSO of Tropic Biosciences respectively, said: “We are wholly committed to enacting real change in the global agriculture industry. We aim to aid growers by bringing genetic innovation to crops and geographies that have seen little such innovation to date; and to promote global health and consumer wellbeing by developing highly nutritious, versatile plant varieties. Our team is excited to have such value-added investors join our efforts and look forward to utilising the new funds in accomplishing our goal of transforming the vast global agriculture industry.”
Ben Belldegrun, Founder and Managing Partner of Pontifax AgTech, and Niccolo Manzoni, Founder and Managing Partner of Five Seasons Ventures, have been appointed to the Board of Directors. They join a board of industry-leading professionals including Dr David Lawrence; Dr Vincent Pétiard, former Director of the Nestlé Corporate R&D Centre for Plant Sciences; and Mr Erez Vigodman, former president and CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, ADAMA Agricultural Solutions and Strauss Group.
“Gene editing is a transformative technology which represents a huge global opportunity, with potential in not just the biotech industry but also in the wider agriculture supply chain. In Tropic Biosciences’ highly experienced team, we and our co-investors see the potential to redefine consumer health, nutrition and improved yields” said Ben Belldegrun. “We look forward to providing expertise and access to our extensive network of growers and strategic players to support the further growth of Tropic Biosciences and the commercialisation of its industry leading tools.”
Tropic Biosciences was founded by Dr Eyal Maori (CSO), a scientific co-founder of Beelogics, which was acquired by Monsanto in 2011; Dr Ofir Meir (CTO), former Project Manager at Rosetta Green, which was acquired by Monsanto in 2013; and Gilad Gershon (CEO), an experienced AgriTech private equity investor and entrepreneur.