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Agri-focused Middleland Capital invests in Benson Hill Biosystems

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.

Middleland Capital, an agriculture-focused venture capital firm, has led a $7.3million series round into Benson Hill Biosystems, which aims to increase crop productivity by genetically boosting photosynthesis.

Other venture investors include Cultivation Capital, TechAccel, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investment  and existing investors Missouri Technology Corporation and Biogenerator.

Funding will be used to further advance Benson’s PSKbase, a computational and systems biology-based platform that helps technology developers and breeders identify promising strategies to increase genetic gain in crop plants. As part of the deal, Scott Horner, managing director 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,” Horner said in a statement, “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.”

Founded in 2012 to address the issue of boosting crop yield with limited inputs, Benson uses computation and biology to improve photosynthesis.

To date, the company has raised $8.4 million including $1.1 million in debt, venture and seed financing, according to CrunchBase.