Jun 26, 2020Pest, disease protection efforts receive $66M to enhance development
Aiming to kick-start the crop protection industry’s stalled R&D pipelines to develop novel, safer products for the global farming community, Enko Chem Inc.(Enko) publicly launched June 26 after securing $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 strong mix of existing (Anterra Capital and Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund) 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 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 Inc.(Enko) to equip them with better ways to fight these threats is crucial to building their resilience to climate impacts on food and feed production.”
The crop protection industry is struggling to face critical challenges including rising regulatory standards, higher performance requirements, and growing pest resistance.At a time when more than 600 pest species have developed some form of resistance and threaten yield losses of up to 40%, industry R&D pipelines have suffered a declining rate of innovation and havefailed to deliver high-value new products when producers and consumers need it the most. Enko 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.
“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.”
Founded in 2017 and incubated by Anterra Capital, Enko will use the funds to expand its technology platform and rapidly develop its pipeline of novel crop protection products. Using advanced pharmaceutical discovery and predictive analytics tools,the company is actively advancing novel modes of action through its platform, and its first solutions are progressing toward field testing and regulatory trials. In support of this mission, Enko continues to cultivate research collaboration and strategic partnerships with industry leaders.
Marijn Dekkers, founder and chairman of Novalis LifeSciences, and Spencer Maughan, co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures, will join Enko’s Board of Directors to support the company’s pursuit of new modes of actions for novel small molecule solutions that will revitalize the industry’s stagnant crop protection pipeline.
Enko discovers and develops novel products for farmers to protect their crops from pests and disease. Its proprietary technology platform represents a revolutionary approach to rapidly discover safe and economical solutions that are needed to ensure sustainable food production. Led by a team of proven scientists, entrepreneurs and ag-industry veterans, Enko’s innovative science, agile design, and discovery of new modes of action is producing next-generation crop protection solutions that will overcome the critical challenges facing industry.
For more information, visit www.enkochem.com.
Additional Investor Quotes:
– Marijn Dekkers, founder and chairman of Novalis LifeSciences, and former CEO of Bayer: “Small molecule crop protection is a critical lever to sustaining agricultural yields and minimizing land use, but innovation hasn’t kept pace with farmers’ needs and consumers’ safety concerns. By using the unique techniques that led to a paradigm shift in small molecule drug discovery, Enko is now emerging as a new leader in innovation for the next generation of small molecule crop protection products that deliver on the promise of safety and sustainability.”
– Spencer Maughan, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures: “Development pipelines for new agriculture chemicals have atrophied. A lack of new discovery platforms has increased costs, and rising regulation has taken the spotlight off of traditional chemistry. Reinvigorating traditional ag chemistry, Enko’s technology is one-of-a-kind and will help move the needle on crop protection to secure the food supply chain.”
– Richard O’Gorman, managing director at Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund: “The global food system is highly complex, and we continuously face new and evolving threats to our food security. We have an urgent need for next-generation agrochemical solutions that meet the needs of today’s environmentally aware growers and consumers. Enko aims to solve this by delivering diverse, effective, and safe products at unprecedented speed, disrupting the crop protection market with its deep pipeline and scalability, to sustainably meet the escalating demands on food production. We at Rabobank are very proud to support Enko’s vision, progress and drive in transforming the crop protection market with its novel and sustainable agrochemical solutions.”
– David Jones, chair of Enko’s Commercial Advisory Board: “Crop Protection is facing stricter regulatory standards, increased pest resistance and higher performance requirements. Standard research methodology has failed to rise to these challenges, and the result has been a shrinking product lineup that cannot keep pace with changing needs. Refreshing the range with more effective and environmentally benign products remains critical for global farming and consumers. Enko’s promise, confirmed by a full pipeline assembled in only three years, is for an accelerated discovery of new compounds with better efficacy and environmental profile at a fraction of industry R&D cost and time.”
– Steffen Helmling, CBO, X-Chem: “Enko’s integrated technology platform represents the most disruptive change in the industry in decades. Deploying DNA-encoded library technology in combination with advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence, Enko simultaneously tests targets against 120 billion compounds – accelerating time to market while reducing R&D costs and ensuring the highest safety standards. Enko’s powerful discovery platform enables the rapid pursuit of new modes of actions to fill the innovation void.”
– Michael Lavin, founder and managing partner, Germin8 Ventures, noted: “Many startups aim to help drive a more food-secure, responsible and efficient agriculture system, but most innovations cannot meaningfully move the needle – especially in the developing world. An ambitious gamechanger tackling agriculture’s most mission-critical needs on the global playing field, Enko is re-inventing the agrochemicals development pipeline to deliver superior, safe, accessible solutions for all.”
– Lavin added: “Agrochemical development needs to evolve to meet safety and resistance concerns. Enko is re-inventing the R&D pipeline of crop protection – unlocking value for Agchem companies needing to enrich their development pipelines, farmers demanding new reliable crop protection solutions, and all stakeholders clamoring for safe and sustainable farming. Enko gives chemistry the next-gen reboot that it needs, with a cutting-edge arsenal of tools to develop better protection for crops so we can safely nourish the world.”