Investment in Enko is to kick-start stalled R&D pipelines to develop novel, safer products for farmers.
Enko Chem Inc. secured $ 45 million in a Series B round of financing, bringing its total funding raised to date to $ 66 million. Led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the latest round attracted a mix of existing (Anterra Capital and Rabobank) and new investors (Finistere Ventures, Novalis LifeSciences, Germin8 Ventures, TO Ventures Food).
“We’re committed to ensuring that smallholder farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have access to affordable innovations that can safely and sustainably control crop pests and diseases, which are likely to intensify and spread into new areas due to climate change,” said Dr. Vipula Shukla, Senior Program Officer, Agriculture, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Smallholder farmers are the backbone of the agricultural economy in these regions, so working with innovative companies like Enko Chem to equip them with better ways to fight these threats is crucial to building their resilience to climate impacts on food and feed production.”
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According to Enko, the crop protection industry is struggling to face critical challenges including rising regulatory standards, higher performance requirements, and growing pest resistance. The company says that more than 600 pest species have developed some form of resistance and threaten yield losses of up to 40 percent.
At the same time, industry R&D pipelines have suffered a declining rate of innovation and have failed to deliver high-value new products when producers and consumers need it the most, says Enko. The company states it is pioneering a new approach by integrating complementary technologies to develop improved products that meet or exceed the safety and sustainability demands of farmers, consumers and regulators around the globe.
Delivering safer, lower use rate products that provide good returns for farmers needs to be the rule and not the exception
“Resistance issues have been plaguing agriculture production for years, but the industry has been slow to innovate. Delivering safer, lower use rate products that provide good returns for farmers needs to be the rule and not the exception,” said Jacqueline Heard, CEO of Enko.
“We are leveraging powerful drug discovery technologies to build a deep pipeline of solutions at unprecedented speed as we strive to lead this $ 60 billion industry into a new era of sustainable agriculture. We are thrilled that our novel approach, which builds in safety measures from the start to keep us ahead of future needs, has attracted support from this top-tier group of investors.”
Enko says it will use the funds to expand its technology platform and develop its pipeline of novel crop protection products. Using advanced pharmaceutical discovery and predictive analytics tools, the company says it is actively advancing novel modes of action through its platform, and its first solutions are progressing toward field testing and regulatory trials.