Finistere Ventures adds Midwest ag vet

Former Monsanto executive David Duncan will look to forge partnerships in the Midwest and build upon his experience helping technology companies commercialize their breakthroughs.

California-based agtech venture capital firm Finistere Ventures announced Tuesday that it has hired ex-Monsanto executive David Duncan as a venture partner.

In his new role, the St. Louis, Missouri-based Duncan will focus on mentoring current portfolio companies working in areas of his expertise, which include plant biotechnology, plant health and plant nutrition.

“While Finistere has a global reach in the agtech community, my focus will be on cultivating the innovation happening across the Midwest to ensure that our local ag entrepreneurs have the opportunity to drive international change,” Duncan said in the statement.

Duncan joins Finistere from the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise in St. Louis, which supported his efforts to establish Colliant Global Ag, a consultancy focused on supporting the development of biotechnology discoveries from early development through commercial launch.

Previously, Duncan served as chief executive of specialty crop pest control provider Pasteuria Bioscience, since sold to Syngenta, and held the same role at Chlorogen, a company offering drugs derived from plants that eventually licensed its technology to Dow Agrosciences.

At Monsanto, Duncan held positions in research, development and sales management before going on to lead the company’s turf and ornamental business. Duncan also led Monsanto’s role in the establishment of Arbogen, a forestry-related joint venture focused on developing traits for the pulp, paper and timber industries.

In the statement, Finistere co-founder and partner Arama Kukutai said that Duncan would help the firm’s portfolio companies commercialize their ideas and establish the Finistere’s presence in the Midwest.

“Dave’s appointment gives us greater visibility on the significant startup and agtech investment opportunities in the region and with a particular focus on Missouri, which boasts world-class research capability and a well-developed ecosystem across seed/breeding, genomic research, animal health and feed and digital agronomy,” Kukutai told Agri Investor in an email.

In May, Finistere added two Israel-based executives soon before announcing its participation in a $7.5 million Series A funding round for Tiranis, an Israeli company offering precision ag software.

Finistere was founded in 2005 and maintains offices in Palo Alto and San Diego, California and Tel Aviv. Other companies currently in the firm’s portfolio include ag analytics company CropX, plant traits technology company ZeaKal and Plenty, which connects consumers with local produce.