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Flagship Ventures launches agbio company

The US venture capital firm has launched its own agbio company, Symbiota, with a $7.5m series A investment into the company.

US venture capital firm Flagship Ventures has launched its own agbio company, Symbiota, injecting $7.5 million into the new company’s series A fundraising round.

Symbiota was launched through Flagship Ventures’ life science and technology subsidiary, Flagship VentureLabs.

Symbiota’s primary focus is research into plant microbes, and developing solutions which benefit plant health and agricultural production.

The firm also hired a new executive chairman, Robert Berendes. He has held senior leadership positions at agribusiness conglomerate Syngenta and McKinsey & Company.

Berendes recently took an operations director position at Paine & Partners, a US agribusiness-focused private equity firm.

“In a short period of time, we have made several big discoveries in the plant microbiome that have led to rapid product development opportunities, field results and a powerful intellectual property estate,” said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Symbiota co-founder and president at Flagship VentureLabs. “Symbiota has attracted an extraordinary team of the world’s experts in agriculture, microbiome science, and plant biology to lead this new field.”

Flagship Ventures manages over $900 million in capital and has founded 27 ventures and invested in another 45.

It established Symbiota in 2012, but the company spent two years in ‘stealth mode’.