The investment by a trio of European funds will enable FA Bio to expand its business, which develops microbial bioproducts to replace more harmful chemical agricultural inputs.
UK-based Clean Growth Fund (CGF) and Dutch-based Pymwymic are co-leading a £5.3m (€6.2m) investment in UK biotech firm FA Bio, which develops microbial bio-products to improve soil health and increase crop production. Spanish venture capital fund, Ship2B Ventures is also investing.
FA Bio, which was previously known as FungiAlert, discovers and develops bioproducts, such as biocontrols, biostimulants and biofertilisers, which could replace chemical agricultural inputs to make farming more sustainable. The investment will support the commercialisation of FA Bio’s technology, and the company’s research work. It will also enable the firm, which is based at the Rothamsted Research Centre to the north of London, to take on more staff.
Led by scientists Angela de Manzanos Guinot and Kerry O’Donnelly Weaver, the company uses a microbial sampling technology, known as SporSenZ, to collect data and microbes from agricultural fields. The team then seek to develop the most promising microbes into agricultural bioproducts for use on major crops in the global food system.
Sophie Pickering, an investment manager at Pymwymic, said FA Bio’s innovative discovery method promised “game-changing” products for sustainable agriculture, while Jonathan Tudor, an investment partner at CGF said FA Bio had significant growth potential, given the natural and manmade challenges facing agriculture globally.
“We are delighted to be investing in the UK bio-tech sector and excited by the carbon emissions reduction that FA Bio’s technology can achieve in agriculture,” Tudor said.
Intensive agriculture and overuse of agrochemicals have contributed to a 70% biodiversity loss in the past 50 years, and exacerbated the impact of climate change via drought, soil warming and higher levels of carbon dioxide, according to Manzanos Guinot, who is FA Bio’s CEO.
She said the company’s bioproducts had the potential to raise crop productivity, while protecting natural ecosystems by providing a natural alternative to chemical fertilisers.
“With this latest round of investment, we can accelerate our R&D work and development of bioproducts for the agriculture sector and achieve our vision of revolutionising sustainable agriculture,” Manzanos Guinot said.
The investment represents a fifth investment by Pymwymic in its Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II. The impact investing cooperative has amassed a diverse range of investments across its wider portfolio, ranging from food waste reduction to agricultural robotics and ethical smartphones.
For CGF, the investment is its third in the UK bio-tech sector. The fund was established in 2020 to invest in UK-based innovations that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve resource efficiency across power, transport, industry, buildings, waste and water industries. The £100m fund, which has some 14 portfolio companies, says it typically makes initial investments of between £500k and £3m, mainly in seed or series A stages of company development.
FA Bio is the third agri-food investment for Barcelona-based Ship2B Ventures, which manages capital of around €60m and has invested in 36 startups, focusing on health, climate change and education.