Sustainable agritech startup Agragene raises $1.2M seed funding for organic crop pest control using CRISPR-based genome engineering
Agragene, a San Diego, California-based agritech startup developing developing novel biological crop pest protection products using advanced CRISPR-based genome engineering, has raised $1.2 million in a seed funding to expand field trials and commercialization of Agragene’s eco-friendly alternatives to chemical pesticides. The round was led by Ospraie Ag Science (OAS), the venture arm of New York-based Ospraie Management.
Founded in 2017, Agragene is modifying the genome of insects and plants to suppress invasive crop pests, eradicate mosquito-borne disease and enhance crop properties. The startup is currently pursuing commercial product launch in the United States and an aggressive licensing strategy worldwide. Agragene is the smart choice for organic and conventional biological crop pest control. Agragene’s initial product targets spotted wing drosophila, a major global crop pest.
“We are honored and excited to be partnering with Ospraie Ag Science,” said Agragene CEO Gordon Alton. “Ospraie’s broad industry knowledge and extensive connections will add enormous value as we commercially deploy our products. These funds will expand field trials of our sterile insect technology to protect crops. This paradigm shift in biological crop protection displaces chemical insecticides, reduces growers’ costs and is safer for the environment.”
The seed round financing will fund the development and commercialization of Agragene’s Precision-Guided Sterile Insect Technology (pgSIT). Agragene’s pgSIT is an eco-friendly CRISPR-based approach to engineer sterile male crop pests that mate with wild female crop pests. Flooding the field with a large ratio of sterile male spotted wing drosophila results in unfertilized insect eggs that produce no offspring and control the pest population. Applied via drone and more affordable than traditional chemical formulations, pgSIT products are safe for bees, birds and workers.
“Agragene’s pgSIT platform has enormous potential to disrupt the $19 billion pesticide market,” said Ospraie Ag Science Senior Partner Carl Casale. “We see strong demand for targeted biological pest control to reduce costly chemical inputs for growers. It fits perfectly with our objective to invest in innovations that help farmers do more with less environmental impact. We are confident in Agragene’s team and look forward to supporting the commercialization of this groundbreaking technology.”