St. Louis, MO and Research Triangle Park, NC – August 26, 2015 – Today Benson Hill Biosystems, The Photosynthesis Company™, announced it has secured an investment of $7.3 million in its Series A round of financing. The funding will be used to further advance its PSKbase™, a computational and systems biology-based platform that helps technology developers and breeders identify promising strategies to increase genetic gain in crop plants. The capital will also support additional field trials and other product development activities for traits that increase crop productivity by improving photosynthesis.
The financing was led by Middleland Capital, an agriculture-focused venture capital firm, with co-investors Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Cultivation Capital, and TechAccel. Existing investors Missouri Technology Corporation and Biogenerator also participated in the round.
“We are pleased to welcome a group of investors who appreciate the current gap of innovation that truly addresses complex trait development in agriculture, and who understand that Benson Hill is on the right path to realize this opportunity,” said Matthew Crisp, president & CEO of Benson Hill Biosystems. “Our team is excited about this next phase of development.”
As part of the financing, Scott Horner of Middleland Capital and Dan Watkins of Mercury Fund will join the Benson Hill board of directors.
“The immense value, and challenge, of improving photosynthesis in crops is well known to many who have attempted more traditional brute-force techniques. We believe that Benson Hill’s demonstrated experience in rational design coupled with the close relationship with the Danforth Plant Science Center positions the company at the forefront of complex trait development,” stated Scott Horner, managing director of Middleland Capital. “A key part of our selection process is not only picking teams with deep technical acumen, but also with a demonstrated capacity to execute commercially. All boxes, and then some, are checked here.”
Boosting crop yield on existing acreage and with limited inputs is the foremost challenge in sustainable production agriculture. With the global population projected to reach nine billion by 2050 and changing diets in the burgeoning middle class worldwide, agricultural output must double in this timeframe. Diminishing agricultural resources such as arable land and fresh water further compound this challenge.
Benson Hill was founded in 2012 to address these growing challenges. Through rational design and by applying next-generation biotechnology and other approaches, the company is using computation and biology to accelerate innovation in crop development. Benson Hill technologies will supply growers with more output from less input and increase sustainability and value throughout the agriculture and bioenergy sectors.
About Benson Hill Biosystems:
Benson Hill Biosystems is an agricultural solutions company primarily focused on the development of traits to increase crop productivity. The company employs an integrated, systems-based approach to trait discovery and validation, and has developed a robust pipeline of next-generation trait candidates. Benson Hill and its partners are dedicated to addressing the foremost challenge in sustainable production agriculture – boosting crop yields on existing acreage and with limited inputs. More information can be found at bensonhillbio.com. – @BensonHillBio