Finistere hires ex-Bayer crop science R&D chief as CTO

Adrian Percy, who already advises two of the firm’s portfolio companies, expects regulatory pressure to provide opportunities for agtech investors.

Agtech-focused venture capital firm Finistere Ventures hired the former head of research and development at Bayer’s crop sciences division as chief technology officer.

Finistere said Dr Adrian Percy will provide strategic, technical and regulatory guidance to the firm’s existing portfolio companies and help identify future opportunities. He will be based in Research Triangle, North Carolina.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Percy joined Bayer Crop Science as head of experimental toxicology in 2002 after having previously holding toxicology positions at Rhone-Poulenc and Aventis Crop Science. Percy went on to hold executive positions at Bayer Crop Science in North Carolina and Germany before assuming the position as head of research and development in 2014.

After leaving that role in August 2018, Percy served as Bayer Crop Science’s ag technology ambassador until last month, a period that also saw him join the boards of ag-tech startups headquartered in Israel, Belgium and North Carolina, among others.

Percy’s role at Bayer had already introduced him to two Finistere portfolio companies: BioLumic, which offers ultraviolet light-based seed and seedling treatments; and computational breeding company Hi Fidelity Genetics. After joining Finistere as CTO, Percy will join the boards of both companies.

Finistere maintains offices in California and Dublin and Percy said the firm’s global presence is part of what attracted him to the new role.

Asked, in a Q&A with Finistere, which emerging technologies are best-positioned to harness growing investor interest in agtech, Percy highlighted crop protection methods designed to supplement or replace existing practice.

“This will be especially important for existing crop protection tools that have generated significant public concern and are consequently hampered by high regulatory hurdles in addition to other factors such as increased resistance to their activity in the field,” Percy said.

Such resistance, Percy said, is part of a general pushback on crop production chemistry that has led to the rejection of GM technology in Europe and which he expects will continue shaping the regulatory landscape.

“In today’s world, public sentiment drives political and regulatory policy, to a large degree,” Percy said. “The food chain really appears to be shortening with consumer preferences, including a demand for more transparency and traceability in our food chain, which will increasingly drive behavior on the farm.”