1955 Capital Makes First Investment into Startup Combatting Pests in Developing Countries

“Crop Enhancement, a startup using what it dubs “sustainable chemistry” to combat crop pests and increase crop yields in the tropics, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding. The round was co-led by 1955 Capital, the VC firm that ex-Khosla partner Andrew Chung launched in February with a $200 million fund. This is the first investment for the fund which is focused on US and European technologies that can be exported to developing countries to solve world challenges across the energy, environment, food, agriculture, health, and education sectors.”

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This Startup Just Raised Funding to Coat Crops

“It’s the brainchild of a serial entrepreneur and former UC Berkeley professor. Is the answer to feeding 9 billion people by 2050 to coat our crops? That’s the new idea by a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup called Crop Enhancement. The five-year-old company makes a thin film out of a polymer that coats crops and protects them from pests and diseases, thus decreasing the need for pesticides.”

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Agtech Startup Crop Enhancement Reaps $8.5M for Plant Coating Tech

“Pesticides are a challenging agricultural problem, because rain washes them off of plants and the resulting runoff can poison other plants, animals, and water systems. Agricultural biotech startup Crop Enhancement is testing a plant protection product that could reduce pesticide use and perhaps do away with these chemical treatments altogether. Today, the company is announcing it has raised $8.5 million in venture capital funding to advance its work.”

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Crop Enhancement Secures $8.5M in Series B Funding to Help Farmers Sustainably Increase Crop Yield While Minimizing or Eliminating Pesticide Use


MLS Capital Fund II and 1955 Capital co-led the round, with Bandgap Ventures and initial investor Phoenix Venture Partners rounding out the syndicate

CAMBRIDGE, MA.—September 13, 2016: Crop Enhancement Inc., an innovator of sustainable chemistry formulations for agriculture applications, has closed $8.5 million in a Series B financing. MLS Capital Fund II (co-managed by Spruce Capital Partners and Xeraya Capital) and 1955 Capital co-led the round, with additional financing from Bandgap Ventures. Original investor Phoenix Venture Partners also participated. As part of the transaction, Greg Young from Spruce Capital Partners and Andrew Chung from 1955 Capital joined Crop Enhancement’s board of directors.

The Series B funding from prominent AgTech investors represents expert validation of Crop Enhancement’s technology, and enables the company to accelerate development and commercialization of its sustainable agrochemical products that prevent crop loss due to biotic stress and deliver precise doses of agricultural active ingredients.

Today’s announcement was made at the Ag Innovation Showcase, where Crop Enhancement is among the companies selected to present from among more than 100 applicants.

Founded in 2011 by David Soane, Ph.D., a serial entrepreneur and inventor in the field of materials science and surface chemistry, Crop Enhancement is commercializing an innovative set of environmentally friendly chemistry formulations that enable growers around the world to sustainably increase crop yields.

Crop Enhancement’s products target annual crop values in excess of $60 billion worldwide across regions that include North America, Southeast Asia, Greater China, Latin America, and Africa. In order to boost crop yields in these regions, Crop Enhancement has developed proprietary films and formulations that modify plant surfaces (leaves, stems, fruit, and seeds) to improve their resistance to pests and diseases and decrease the need for harmful pesticides. Crop Enhancement’s formulations can also be applied to agricultural inputs like nutrients, fertilizers and other active ingredients, enabling the farmer to precisely control their release, thereby reducing costs and increasing yield.

“This Series B funding is an important milestone for us: we are now well positioned to ramp up development and commercial efforts to capture sizable market opportunities,” said Kevin Chen, Ph.D., CEO of Crop Enhancement. “We are currently field-trialing our products globally, and actively seeking market-entry and distribution partners to introduce us to growers of high-value permanent crops.”

Greg Young, managing partner at Spruce Capital Partners, sees Crop Enhancement addressing a crucial need for precision farming in large international markets. “Crop Enhancement offers an innovative and eco-friendly approach to farming that has applications in many crops around the world — particularly in Southeast Asia. We are very pleased to provide the financial and technical lift to accelerate the commercialization of this important technology, which will help growers boost crop yields through sustainable farming.”

“Crop Enhancement is a great example of a company that can address two key challenges in the developing world: increasing food production and fostering the development of sustainable agricultural practices,” said Andrew Chung, founder and managing partner at 1955 Capital. “We’re eager to help introduce Crop Enhancement’s technologies to growers and key partners in Greater China.”

About 1955 Capital
1955 Capital was founded in the fall of 2015 by Andrew Chung to invest in companies in the Americas and Europe that can address the developing world’s most pressing challenges related to energy, healthcare, food, agriculture, education, and sustainable manufacturing. The firm recently completed a first close on $200 million in anchor commitments, the largest VC firm debut in Q1 2016. With over a decade of experience investing in these sectors at leading global firms like Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Ventures, Chung has experience in identifying technologies with significant impact potential in China and other developing countries, and supporting entrepreneurs in the development of mutually productive partnerships. The firm is based in Los Altos, California. More information is available at www.1955.capital.

About Bandgap Ventures
Bandgap Ventures is an Austin-based venture capital firm focused on equity investments in early-stage companies developing hardware and physical science technologies. Bandgap specializes in funding of advanced materials and chemistries, energy technologies, advanced manufacturing, semiconductor and optical components and sensors, and system hardware. For more information, please visit www.bandgapventures.com.

About Phoenix Venture Partners
Phoenix Venture Partners (PVP) is a leading venture capital firm that invests in and partners with entrepreneurs to commercialize breakthrough materials science innovations. PVP’s team has a track record of founding, building and investing in successful materials science start-ups. The firm’s investment strategy is flexible and predicated on assisting entrepreneurs with customer and supply-chain partnerships, business development, as well as strategic and operational support. PVP collaborates with a select set of forward-looking global corporations on business development and innovation interests. PVP is based in Silicon Valley with satellite offices in Singapore and Cambridge, MA. For more information, please visit www.phoenix-vp.com.

About Spruce Capital Partners
The principals and founders of Spruce Capital Partners, Dr. Ganesh Kishore, Dr. Roger Wyse, and Greg Young, are well known investors and thought leaders in the biogreentech sector. They bring a wealth of experience as investors, advisers, and domain experts in helping entrepreneurs build the next generation of successful biogreentech companies. They formed Spruce Capital Partners not only to manage venture funds, but also to develop new talent for the industry, provide thought leadership, and promote innovation in companies and countries. The principals have worked together for more than 10 years and have shepherded investments across multiple funds and multiple sectors. They are also active in advising, partnering, and shaping the life sciences industry globally and, especially in Malaysia and the United States. Spruce Capital Partners is a co-manager of the MLS Capital Fund II. Additional information is available at www.sprucecp.com.

About Crop Enhancement
Crop Enhancement is a venture-backed agriculture technology corporation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded by renowned materials scientist and serial entrepreneur Dr. David Soane, Crop Enhancement is developing sustainable agrochemical formulations that employ advanced and environmentally friendly chemistry to improve crop yields, eliminate or minimize pesticide use, and enable precise and effective delivery of active ingredients and fertilizers. Visit us at www.crop-enhancement.com.

Media contact:Tim Cox, ZingPR, tim@zingpr.com, 650-369-7784