News Release | January 6, 2016 | Read Time: 6 minutes
Monsanto Growth Ventures Announces First Investment Portfolio
ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Today Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), the venture capital arm of
Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON), announced for the first time its growing
investment portfolio; nearly a dozen independent companies that are
active in key areas of agricultural productivity, digital agriculture
and biologicals. The following details are being released in conjunction
with Monsanto’s annual research and development pipeline announcement.
“Entrepreneurs are more engaged with the food and agriculture sector
than ever before,” said John Hamer, Managing Director of MGV. “We
believe MGV provides collaborative access to one of the most innovative
agriculture companies, as well as deep venture capital experience within
MGV has led or co-led all but two of its investments and counts more
than 50 different co-investors in its portfolio. The investments range
from structured buyouts, to syndicated venture capital investments
syndicated with leading venture capital firms. All of them are
independently run companies in which where MGV is a minority shareholder.
“We see tremendous potential for transformational advances in
agriculture, which is why we are collaborating with Monsanto Growth
Ventures to boost startups like Plant Response Biotech,” said Dr. Scott
Horner, Managing Director with Middleland Capital, a co-investor with
MGV. “We have a front-row seat for innovation, and it’s encouraging to
see both industry leaders and the investment community rally to support
Part of Monsanto’s commitment to bringing new technologies to
agriculture is recognizing other innovators the company can work with to
deliver solutions for farmer customers. “Venture capital investing is a
natural outgrowth of Monsanto’s long history of partnering for outside
innovation, and we will continue to look for creative deal structures,
partnerships and investments that can improve the lives and practices of
growers everywhere,” said Hamer.
Many of the companies in which MGV has invested complement Monsanto’s
integrated systems approach. This approach will help increase
efficiencies in agriculture, and brings together breeding,
biotechnology, biologicals, digital agriculture and agronomic practices
to give growers better tools and technologies to support global food
The top three criteria for selecting companies for investment were: 1)
the strategic opportunity represented by the company; 2) a founding team
with exceptional vision, passion and commitment to agriculture; and 3)
fulfilling key requirements for a venture capital investment including
the appropriate return on capital. MGV has also sourced digital
agriculture acquisitions for Monsanto, including The Climate
Corporation, YieldPop, Solum and 640Labs.
Among the MGV investments are:
Arvegenix is a St. Louis, Mo., company transforming field
pennycress into a commercially viable cover crop service, while also
producing an energy and feed crop. Cover crop adoption can drive
greater profitability and sustainability for farmers, and also provide
a cultivation option between corn and soy rotations.
Nimbus-Ceres is a jointly owned entity with Nimbus
Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., to co-develop
agricultural fungicides. Nimbus-Ceres combines Nimbus’
validated computational platform and innovative research tools with
Monsanto’s agriculture testing capabilities to develop broad-spectrum
AgSolver, based in Ames, Iowa, develops software and analytic
systems for supporting more sustainable land management, valuation and
Vital Fields, based in Tallinn, Estonia, is a company with the
simplest farm management system in the business, and helps European
growers maximize their farm efficiencies. The company manages
everything from field books to compliance to farm activities, and will
be providing farm analytics to help growers make data-driven decisions.
HydroBio provides prescriptive irrigation recommendations by
creating a layered data product via a mobile platform, to conserve
water and increase yields. It is focused on irrigated acres of major
row crops, and has helped Monsanto reduce its water footprint for seed
production. The company is based in Denver, Colo.
On the forefront of robotic farming, Blue River Technology in
Sunnyvale, Calif., uses computer vision and machine learning for
precision weeding and the application of herbicides. Blue River is
moving agriculture towards a world where every plant is detected and
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Preceres accesses technology from
MIT to develop delivery agents to support the development of
biological solutions for farmers. Preceres possesses a large diverse
chemical library of 2,300+ compounds/biomaterials.
AgBiome discovers and develops biologicals, traits and
innovative biofungicide products that it commercializes directly and
through partnerships. The company is headquartered in Research
Triangle Park, N.C.
Cambridge, Mass.-based RaNA Therapeutics develops RNA-targeted
molecules that selectively target protein expression.
PivotBio is an Emeryville, Calif., company focused on
innovation rooted in the crop microbiome. Pivot is improving
agricultural microbial strains to increase crop productivity.
Based in Madrid, Spain, Plant Response Biotech offers a
promising pipeline of natural products and microbes for crop health
and yield that deliver more value to the grower around biotic and
abiotic stress tolerance.
As it continues to build out its venture portfolio, MGV will continue
looking for promising teams and ideas in agriculture, while aiding the
development of cross-over technologies that could benefit agriculture.
“Working with Monsanto Growth Ventures has brought significant value to
our firm as we chart our next phase of growth and look into moving our
robotic machines from vegetables to row crops,” said Jorge Heraud, CEO
of Blue River Technology. “Having a partner with global reach that is
willing to make introductions opens doors for us. I’m excited about our
ability to take our technology to more places than we could have done
For more information on Monsanto Growth Ventures and investment
opportunities, visit http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/monsanto-growth-ventures.
Monsanto Growth Ventures is growth-stage agnostic and will invest in
companies from Seed stage, through Series A and beyond. Its robust
program for partnering with early-stage companies leads to stronger
partnerships, collaborations that accelerate development and, sometimes,
according to strategic goals, mergers and acquisitions. Other members of
the MGV team include Ryan Rakestraw, Venture Principal; Kiersten Stead,
Venture Principal; and Darren Streiler, Venture Partner.
Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help
nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and
key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton – that help farmers have
better harvests while using water and other important resources more
efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help
farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural
resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from
pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate
with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and
others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. To learn
more about Monsanto, our commitments and our more than 20,000 dedicated
employees, please visit: discover.monsanto.com
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