BioConsortia closes $8m funding round

An infusion of $8m in capital will help fund research into seed treatments and soil additives designed to increase agricultural yield.

BioConsortia has closed an $8 million round of equity funding, which, combined with a previous $4 million raise in venture debt from Square 1 Bank, brings the agtech startup’s total funding in 2016 to $12 million.

Existing investors Khosla Ventures and Otter Capital provided the equity, which will go towards research efforts aimed at product development related to plant trait enhancement and crop yield improvement.

“We can keep our foot on the accelerator and continue to expand our research capabilities, field trials program and the number of beneficial traits we are moving down our pipeline,” said BioConsortia chief executive officer Marcus Meadows-Smith, in a statement.

Davis, California-based BioConsortia researches microbial communities in order to develop seed treatments and soil additives aimed at improving agricultural yield. Next year the company will launch product trials designed to address drought tolerance and fertiliser efficiency on corn, soy and wheat, as well as biopesticides for the management of soilborne diseases and pests in select high-value vegetable crops, according to the statement.

Khosla Ventures and Otter Capital funded a $15 million Series B round for BioConsortia in 2014, which was used to relocate the company from New Zealand to Davis.

At the Agri Investor Forum in Chicago last month, Meadows-Smith said that declining research costs mean that smaller companies like BioConsortia are now capable of making scientific breakthroughs, which will yield much higher price-tags for these companies if sold off.

“The big value-creation is actually going to come [from] future technologies, and I think the price-tags are going to $1 billion-plus when you’re looking at the research that is coming out of microbes,” he said.

“The breakthroughs will come from smaller companies because the bigger companies… tend to look at the obvious within their known world and they prioritise their research projects in such a way that they are all going after the same things.”