Khosla, Otter invest $15m into biotech company

The venture capital and private equity firms invested $7.5m each into BioConsortia, a technology company that has developed a system to improve crop productivity.

Khosla Ventures, the California-based venture capital firm and Otter Capital, a private equity firm, have co-invested $15 million into agriculture biotech company BioConsortia.

Both firms invested equally into the newly named BioConsortia — which used to be known as BioDiscovery — during the Series B round of fundraising.

For Khosla this was a repeat investment into the company. Through its $300 million early stage fund, it previously invested a total of $4 million as part of a seed programme. This involved rolling out further experimentation and allowing the company to evaluate a broader number of crops and traits across them; BioConsortia has developed a system to use bacteria as a means to improve crop productivity.

The company was originally self-funded and was doing research on micro plant interactions a number of years before, according to Andrew Chung, partner at Khosla Ventures. The seed investment aimed to bring together the knowledge they had developed over a long period of time, he told Agri Investor.

During this process Khosla helped to get Mark Meadows-Smith on board as chief executive. Meadows-Smith was the chief executive of AgraQuest, the biofertiliser company that was successfully acquired by Bayer CropScience for over $400 million in 2012.

Otter Capital was a private equity investor in AgraQuest and was introduced to BioConsortia by Meadows-Smith, the new chief executive.

The AgraQuest deal was one of the first examples of a venture-backed exit in the agtech industry and Meadows-Smith’s reputation precedes him as a result, according to Chung.

Khosla invested into BioConsortia through its $1 billion main fund.