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TechAccel, Iowa Corn Opportunities Invest in Agrivida

February 10, 2017

TechAccel, a venture and developmental partner focused on the agriculture, animal health, and food sectors, and Iowa Corn Opportunities, the equity funding arm of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, have jointly announced separate investments in St. Louis-based biotech animal nutrition company Agrivida Inc.

“TechAccel and Iowa Corn Opportunities are partners with the strategic commitment to advance the Agrivida vision,” said Dan Meagher, president and CEO of Agrivida. “Our technology promises improved production efficiency of major food segments, from plants to meat, milk and eggs.”

Founded in 2004 by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Agrivida has developed a biomolecular technology platform of plant-expressed enzymes derived from corn that can significantly improve the performance of animal nutrition products.

Through its work, the company has been granted 33 patents and has an additional 85 patents pending. Closest to commercialization is GraINzyme® – a feed additive for use in poultry, swine, dairy, and beef cattle rations that can improve conversion of anti-nutritional feed components while improving utilization of dietary energy sources. Other advanced products include INzyme®, an additive that increases digestibility, dry matter intake and milk yields in dairy cows; and Inergy™, a plant line that delivers 20 percent more energy content with the same feed volume for ruminant animals.

The announcement by TechAccel and Iowa Corn Opportunities includes them among a wide field of existing investors after the announcement of Agrivida’s $20.4 million Series E in September 2016, which was led by Texas investment Management Company and included ARCH Venture Partners, Middleland Capital, Cultivian Sandbox, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Northgate Capital.

Previously, in August 2015 the company announced its oversubscribed $23 million Series D led by Cultivian Sandbox, and including ARCH Venture Partners, Middleland Capital, an affiliate of Maschoff Family Foods, and existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures, Bright Capital Partners, Gentry Venture Partners, Northgate Capital, Prairie Gold and private investors.

Two Motivations

Under its partnership model of investing and acceleration, TechAccel focuses on companies that have “a strong science advancement need” – something TechAccel can bridge through its access to technological expertise and R&D initiatives via its network of agribusinesses and universities.

Through its partnership with Agrivida, TechAccel sees potential for the expansion of the application of the company’s technology.

“Agrivida is focused on poultry and swine at the moment using the corn plant as the manufacturing facility for those enzymatic products, but we think there’s opportunity to work with other plants such as soy or to create products for other animals,” Michael Helmstetter from TechAccel told AgFunder. “By partnering with us and our allied universities, we will help Agrivida move into the other areas faster than they might themselves without negatively impacting their bandwidth, but by adding value.”

Meanwhile, Iowa Corn Opportunities sees Agrivida’s value squarely in its proprietary corn-based technology, and has pursued this investment as a move that will benefit Iowa’s corn growers and the 7,500 member Iowa Corn Growers Association.

“We see Agrivida and its technology as a great new platform for using corn as a cost-competitive factory for a wide variety of products,” said Brian Jones, chief operating officer of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, parent company of Iowa Corn Opportunities.

 

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com

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