Agtech company Zero Gravity Solutions (ZGSI) has raised $3 million to roll out a plant nutrient delivery system developed with the US space programme, according to its chairman, Harvey Kaye.
The company expects to complete the funding round with another $4m tranche before the end of the month and plans to list on a senior exchange by mid-2016, said Kaye. The company will use the money to ramp up production and sales infrastructure for its first commercial product, BAM-FX fertiliser.
Cornerstone investors in the raise include Soumyo Sarkar and Alexander Boies, who have joined the board as independent directors. Sarkar is chief executive of investment advisory firm Sumit Capital and Boies is an associate at law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
Zero Gravity Solutions has received patent approval in the US for BAM-FX, a nutrient delivery system for crops developed through a partnership between NASA and ZGSI’s chief science officer, John Kennedy. The product originated from efforts to develop a method for growing nutrition-rich food for astronauts.
According to Kaye, independent tests of the product have shown twice per-season applications on tomatoes, grapes and other crops resulted in dramatic increases in yield. Kaye said that crops treated with the product have also shown a resistance to blight.
“You’re not only enhancing the nutrition of the plant so that it’s better for you and me when we eat it,” said Kaye. “But you’re also building up the health of the plant and its resistance to fungus and disease.”
The Florida-based company is currently listed publicly on the US pink sheet market but has raised the majority of its capital through venture and equity investments from high net worth individual accredited investors. Kaye explained that the company’s roughly 100,000 shares of stock are not actively traded. However, the company sees acting as a fully reporting public company as a route to a listing on a senior US stock exchange.
“After we complete this round [we] expect to file an S-1 registration form and some time during the first half of this year expect to make a larger transaction that will uplift the company to the Nasdaq national market,” said Kaye.
Kaye said Zero Gravity’s work with NASA, has yielded a wealth of knowledge on molecular science in zero and minimum gravity environments that will lead to a wealth of applications for agriculture on earth.
“The next natural direction for biotech has to be zero gravity, because everything in biotech that’s been done so far was developed in 1G of gravity,” said Kaye. “If you’re in a micro-gravity environment for any length of time, it changes all of the physical aspects of what happens at the cellular level.”