Gates Foundation leads $45 million investment in crop protection startup

10 Jul 2020

Crop protection company Enko Chem announced that it raised $45 million in a Series B funding round led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with participation from Anterra Capital, Rabobank, Finistere Ventures, Novalis LifeSciences, Germin8 Ventures and TO Ventures Food. This most recent infusion of capital brings the company’s fundraising to a total of $66 million.

Enko Chem is a new company founded in 2017 and is still in the early stages of product testing, but the company is operating from a platform that is looking to attack pests without producing the side effects that are often associated when pesticides hit marks that are off target. Bayer’s Monsanto is known to cause crop damage from pesticide drift and has also been linked to human health risks.

Gates Foundation leads $45 million investment in crop protection startup

To ensure that its product is safe for use, Enko Chem is proactively screening the new molecules for use in pesticide options at vetting them for health risks and weed resistance. AgFunder News reported that the company is also looking for molecules that can boost a crop’s resilience to pests rather than killing the pests themselves.

Pesticides are often considered troublesome chemicles for farmers and environmentalists alike with concerns about cancer and pesticide-resistant weeds making conventional crop protection choices unappealing solutions. Still, the crop protection industry is a $60 billion industry and will only likely grow as farmers seek to combat the 1.3 billion tons of food waste experienced globally every year - in part due to weeds and pests - at the same time that they try to streamline farming practices to feed the predicted 9.8 billion people that will call earth home in 2050.

The partnership with the Gates Foundation presents a unique opportunity for the pesticide company. Not only is Enko looking to make its crop protection technology available to industrial-scale farmers, but the company is working to make its solutions available to smallholder famers in South America and sub-Saharan Africa at a low or no cost option.

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