Agragene, a sustainable agriculture technology business producing novel biological crop pest protection products, has just raised $2 million in an A2 round of financing bringing the company's total funding to $7.2 million To date,. The investment was spearheaded by BioGenerator, a venture capital firm investing solely in St. Louis companies, which will be used to advance the field trials and commercialization of the company's environment-friendly substitutes for synthetic pesticides. New York-based Ospraie Management, a commodities and basic industries business, also joined in this funding round through its venture arm Ospraie Ag Science (OAS), having already led previous seed rounds for the company.
Agagene's technology uses CRISPR to make sterile male pests that mate with wild females, producing no eggs and naturally eradicating their populations. The applications are safe for bees, birds and workers. The first pest targeted is the Spotted Wing Drosophila, a virulent and invasive fly that has caused more than $700 million in damage to fruit harvests across the country.
Agragene recently decided to relocate its headquarters from San Diego due to soaring costs of equipment, facilities and personnel. OAS, taking advantage of the strength of the technology, immense potential for biopesticides and exclusive intellectual property rights, accessed its network to take on the relocation. Bryan Witherbee joined in as the St. Louis-headquartered biotech executive and made sure Agragene's vital array of sterilized flies could be transferred with the company when they moved to Helix Center.
The move significantly reduced the company’s burn rate, extending the annual financial runway by several months each year. Founded in St. Louis by a biologist, a CEO, and a room filled with flies, Agragene has grown into a staff of eight (including full-time and contracted employees) who have reached testing milestones to achieve sterility.
With its welcoming, affordable, collaborative, and innovative environment, OAS Senior Agricultural Partner Carl Casale praised St. Louis' agtech scene.
As Casale said of the move, this company would not exist without the support of the St. Louis financial and tech community. St. Louis is a perfect fit for coastal tech companies. We are excited about working with Agragene as they help farmers achieve more with less environmental impact.