Syngenta Ventures leads Series A for biotech firm

The venture capital arm of chemicals giant Syngenta led the $7.3m round into AgriMetis, a natural crop protection developer, with biotech firm Acidophil.

The venture capital arm of chemicals giant Syngenta has led a $7.3 million Series A round of financing for AgriMetis, a natural crop protection developer, alongside Acidophil, a bio-technology innovation company.

Since 2006, Syngenta has invested over $100 million in early-stage companies that work to help growers around the world increase farming productivity, according to AgriMetis’ website.

The Series A closed in two phases, the first in March 2014 and the second phase last week.

Syngenta Ventures and Acidophil were joined by angel investors although AgriMetis declined to disclose the amount each investor put in.

The core business of AgriMetis, the production of complex bio-active molecules known as ‘natural products’, serves the $53 billion crop protection industry. The Series A funding will be used to advance the company’s pipeline of crop protection agents – fungicides, herbicides and insecticides derived from natural products – to key development milestones. AgriMetis is open to partnering with agrichemical companies or licensing its technology to them through its Crop Protection Programs, according to the website.

AgriMetis has no immediate plans to raise further capital, according to Simon Aspland, vice president of business development. “AgriMetis is a research based company,” he told Agri Investor. “As the technologies mature, that will decide when we will do the next round of fundraising.”

The firm will wait until the latter part of 2015 to make further plans; it’s too early to discuss a target now, Aspland added.

“Natural products are tailor-made by nature for biological activity and selectivity but their high cost of production has limited their application in agriculture,” said Roger Kemble, director at AgriMetis and former president of Syngenta Biotechnology, in a statement. “This is the key challenge that AgriMetis is addressing,” he added. Kemble was also research director at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, now DuPont Pioneer, the hybrid seed producer.