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Monsanto’s venture arm leads $24m Series C

The firm co-led the round in biologicals start-up NewLeaf Symbiotics alongside Otter Capital, bringing capital raised by the company to nearly $50m.

Monsanto Growth Ventures has led a $24 million Series C fundraising round in NewLeaf Symbiotics, a company focused on developing and commercializing products containing beneficial plant bacteria.

The venture arm of the chemicals giant led the round alongside Palo Alto-based Otter Capital. Other investors that participated in the round include Lewis & Clark Ventures, as well as returning investors Rockport Capital, Pangaea Ventures and Open Prairie Ventures.

NewLeaf, which focuses on the extraction and use of methylotrophic bacteria, will use the capital to commercialize seed treatment and in-furrow products for soybeans, corn, wheat, peanuts and other crops. The company’s growth plans will triple the size of its R&D and pilot production facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

“The application of these bacteria in agriculture has tremendous potential to enhance yields and improve plant health. We are excited to partner with NewLeaf to support the advancement of this differentiated technology,” said MGV principal Ryan Rakestraw.

Otter Capital led a $17 million Series B in the company in September 2014 following a $7 million Series A the company raised in 2013. Otter has made a number of investments in the agri space, including an early investment in pesticide company AgraQuest which was sold in 2012 to Bayer CropScience for $425 million.

NewLeaf was established in 2013 at Danforth Plant Science Center, a scientific facility in St. Louis funded by a host of public bodies and private companies including Monsanto, JPMorgan and the US government.