VC firm Big Idea Ventures enters biologicals sector with PlantSustain platform

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/Luis Alvarez
Image: Getty/Luis Alvarez

Related tags biologicals

Early-stage ag and food tech investor Big Idea Ventures has launched its fifth portfolio company through its Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) fund.

The company, PlantSustain, will look to partner with key research institutions to focus on the commercialisation of groundbreaking biological innovation for agriculture.

PlantSustain is a platform for progressing biological innovation from research through to commercialisation, aiming to replace chemical pesticides and fertilisers with natural endophytic bacteria and fungi solutions. Leveraging the expertise and innovation developed at leading universities and research institutes, PlantSustain boosts plants’ ability to fight disease while increasing nutritional intake for healthier crops and the environment. The company will license intellectual property from universities and commercialise the technology to address challenges to the agriculture and food industries.

“As the demand for less toxic crop protection and fertiliser products increases, GFRP is very excited to launch a company focused on commercializing breakthrough endophytic microbe technologies aimed at creating sustainable crop protection and nutrition solutions for farmers,” said Elsa Swanson Sareen, vice president of the GFRP fund.

The board of directors of PlantSustain has appointed Simon Hill, a seasoned global business development leader with a broad range of experience in scaling and commercializing technologies to global markets, as chief executive officer. “The push to adopt more sustainable and cost-effective solutions to agricultural challenges is driving innovation,” Hill said. “Inspired by the strides made by GFRP in alternative protein and sustainable packaging, I am thrilled to lead PlantSustain in working with renowned research institutions and established distribution partners to identify, develop and commercialise reliable and cost-effective microbial products for more efficient agricultural production.”

The GFRP fund evaluates intellectual property focused on innovations in the agriculture, food, and protein sectors. It invests, typically in the range of $1-5 million per investment, to create new companies formed around research with the greatest chance for broad commercialisation. These new companies will be headquartered in rural communities in the US, creating living wage jobs to drive economic growth and development.

GFRP is backed by members of the Farm Credit System, including Farm Credit Services of America, CoBank, Compeer Financial and Mid-America Farm Credit.

The four other companies to have joined the GFRP fund are DisSolves, a Pittsburgh-based start-up that has developed a patented technology for creating biodegradable and edible packaging materials; TerraSafe Materials, a material science company developing sustainable packaging solutions;  Nexture Bio, which makes enabling technologies for the cultivated meat industry; and BioBond Adhesives, which makes bio-based adhesive products for the food industry.

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