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This Female-Owned Startup is Discovering Microbes for Game-Changing Bioproducts

By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media (April 9, 2024)

(Reprinted from our sister publication, GAI News)


British biotech company FA Bio announced it has closed on £5.3 million (US$6.68 million) to continue its work discovering superior microbes for bioproducts that will improve soil health, increase crop yields, protect biodiversity, and replace chemical inputs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


This tranche of capital was co-led by Clean Growth Fund of the leading cleantech venture investors in the UK, and Pymwymic, a Dutch impact venture fund with a focus on ag and food technologies, with participation from Ship2B Ventures, a Spanish impact VC fund addressing key environmental and social issues through its investment activity. 

For Pymwymic, this investment is its fifth through its Healthy Food Systems Fund II, while it was the third investment in the UK biotech sector for Clean Growth, and third in the agrifood space for Ship2B Ventures. 

Previously known as FungiAlert, FA Bio is based at the Rothamsted Research Center - a world leading agricultural research science facility located in Harpenden. Led by Dr. Angela de Manzanos Guinot and Dr. Kerry O’Donnelly Weaver, the startup is discovering and developing microbial bioproducts including biocontrols, biostimulants, and biofertilizers.


“Our mission at Ship2B Ventures is to back bold entrepreneurs that are solving the most pressing problems faced by humankind,” said Jaime de Antonio, investment manager, Ship2B Ventures. “Thus, we are thrilled to support Angela and Kerry’s purpose to disrupt the Agrifood industry for the better. We truly believe FA Bio’s developments will protect a damaged natural GHG sink, the land.” 

 

Currently, the global insecticides market is dominated by synthetic chemicals, accounting for 94 percent of all control solutions – representing a projected market value of $27 billion, but one that pigeonholes the entire food system with few choices. 

This lack of choices has, on a global scale, led to more than 600 species of pests having developed a resistance to traditional agro-chemicals on some level – sometimes to entire “families” of pesticides, cutting a swath through what farmers have available to work with to protect their crops.


The stakes are high, but so is the potential for products that approach the challenge in a new and sustainable way.


The global agricultural biologicals market, which was valued at $10.25 billion in 2021, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 14.07 percent to reach a value of $29.31 billion by 2029, according to data from Fortune Business Insights. 

FA Bio utilizes its unique targeted microbial sampling strategy - SporSenZ technology - to collect data and microbial isolates from agricultural fields. From this foundation, its scientific team works to develop the most promising microbes into agricultural bioproducts for the most critical crops in our global food ecosystem. 


“Intensive agriculture and overuse of agrochemicals have contributed to a 70 percent biodiversity loss in the past 50 years, which has been made worse by the damaging effects of climate change – drought, soil warming, and higher levels of CO₂,” said Dr. Angela de Manzanos Guinot, CEO, FA Bio.


“Our innovative technology and game-changing bioproducts have the potential to boost crop productivity and provide a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, protecting the world’s natural ecosystems.”


The company explained that this newly gained capital will be used to support the commercialization of its technology and to drive its ongoing research and expansion of its team.


“With this latest round of investment, we can accelerate our R&D work and development of bioproducts for the agriculture sector and achieve our vision of revolutionizing sustainable agriculture,” said de Manzanos Guinot. 


Dr. Jonathan Tudor, investment partner with Clean Growth Fund, noted, “We are excited to be supporting FA Bio’s next phase of growth. Angela and Kerry, and all of the FA Bio team, have achieved so much, and given the challenges – natural and man-made – that agriculture is facing across the world, FA Bio has significant growth potential. We are delighted to be investing in the UK biotech sector and excited by the carbon emissions reduction that FA Bio’s technology can achieve in agriculture.” 



~ Lynda Kiernan-Stone is editor in chief with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and  Agtech Intel News, as well as HighQuest Group’s Unconventional Ag. She can be reached at lkiernan-stone@globalaginvesting.com.


*The content put forth by Global AgInvesting News and its parent company HighQuest Partners is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. All information or other material herein is not to be construed as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Global AgInvesting and HighQuest Partners are not a fiduciary in any manner, and the reader assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information or other content on this site.

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