MONTREAL — Inocucor Technologies Inc., a leading innovator and producer of sustainable biological crop inputs, announced completion of the $38.8 million CAD first close of its Series B financing round. The lead investor in the first close is TPG Alternative and Renewable Technologies (TPG ART), a growth-equity and late-stage venture capital vehicle of global alternative asset firm TPG.
Inocucor uses a patented fermentation process to combine multi-strains of bacteria and yeasts into powerful soil and plant optimizers that are safe for people and the environment. These products naturally improve crop yields, shorten growing periods and create healthier, more resilient soils for farmers and greenhouse growers.
“This investment speaks to TPG ART’s strategy of partnering with unique companies that are deploying innovative business models and technologies to reduce environmental impact and promote resource efficiency,” said Geoff Duyk, partner at TPG ART. ”We’re excited to work with Inocucor’s management team and other investors to help grow the company.”
In connection with the investment, Duyk joined Inocucor's board of directors.
Other participants in this first Series B round are Cycle Capital Management, the Montreal-based clean tech venture capital firm that made its first investment in Inocucor in late 2013; Desjardins Innovatech, another original investor and the venture capital group of Desjardins, one of Canada's leading cooperative financial groups with more than $200 billion in assets; and Closed Loop Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in agriculture technologies and food system innovations.
Funds will support opening a U.S. headquarters and commercialization office, significantly increasing manufacturing capacity at Inocucor's Montreal pilot production and R&D facility, and adding managerial and scientific expertise to Inocucor's staff.
"The specialty ag biologicals sector is one of agriculture's bright spots, answering the need for sustainable agriculture inputs that help growers improve yields and invigorate soil," said Inocucor's president and CEO, Donald R. Marvin. "Our corporate strategy includes staking our claim as a market leader in this emerging segment by growing organically with our own proprietary microbial consortia technology while also pursuing strategic acquisitions and product development partnerships in North America, Latin America and Western Europe."
Andrée-Lise Méthot, founder and managing partner of Cycle Capital Management, said her firm sees a very bright future for Inocucor. "Inocucor has come a long way since our first investment. It has products on the market, being used by growers who are experiencing positive results. The promise we saw in those early days is coming to fruition," she said.
Inocucor's flagship product, Garden Solution, soon to be rebranded in the U.S. as Synergro, is a live-cell formulation for high-value produce, such as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli. Synergro Free is a cell-free bio-fertilizer additive to existing plant nutrients for commodity row crops, such as soybean, corn and wheat. Inocucor’s new-product development pipeline includes bio-control formulations that combat economically devastating diseases in crops such as strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes.
Both products are among the first microbial products of their kind to be registered in Canada. In the U.S., Garden Solution (Synergro) is OMRI Listed nationally and OIM-registered in California for organic production. It is registered for use in 22 U.S. states. Synergro Free is registered in 16 U.S. states.
Marvin said independent studies using Synergro have shown increased yields in strawberries of 30 percent or more. Yields for other high-value produce crops using a Synergro-based treatment program have increased from the high single digits to between 40 and 50 percent. Inocucor is currently starting internal and external field trials for the 2017 growing season based on data collected from row crop field trials with commercial partners in Latin America and North America.
In November 2015, Inocucor was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Inocucor’s microbial consortia technology, fermentation process and unique microbial products. That initial patent is now in the process of issuing in major jurisdictions around the world.