Clean Crop Technologies Raises $2.75M for Ionization Tech to Reduce Grain Contamination and Food Was
Northampton, Massachusetts-based Clean Crop Technologies announced it has raised $2.75 million through a Seed round led by Prime Impact Fund. The fund’s commitment of $1.6 million to the round represents the fund’s first agtech investment.
The balance of the capital was backed by Factor[e] Ventures, Innova Memphis, the Syndicate Fund, and the Alchemy Fund.
The startup’s co-founders, Dan White and Daniel Cavanaugh, together have more than 25 years of experience working in global supply chains, with White spending a decade in ag development and ag-input markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and Cavanaugh having begun his career trading and processing grain, nuts, and oilseeds in East Africa. He later went on to manage and advise global commercial agribusinesses.
During their time working directly with maize and groundnut traders in sub-Saharan Africa, the pair grew frustrated with the lack of solutions to battle contaminants that so often created crop and value loss for smallholders, traders, and graders.
These contaminants include mycotoxins, molds, and pathogens that lead to an estimated 500 million tons of supply chain food waste on a global scale, and 600 million cases of food borne illnesses each year.
The economic toll of these contaminants, which hits regions with less developed agricultural infrastructure and technology harder than others, is staggering at nearly $250 billion. And the additional environmental toll is not insignificant either, at 3 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
The problem was clear. To find a solution, White and Cavanaugh partnered with Dr. Kevin Keener, a renowned professor at the University of Guelph who has led research on High Voltage Atmospheric Cold Plasma (HVACP) and ionized air technology applications for food safety for two decades.
After extensive groundwork, the company is now developing a proprietary, energy efficient ionized air generator that combines air and electricity to create ionized gasses that:
remove up to 83 percent of toxins from grains and nuts without quality loss
remove more than 99 percent of molds and pests
and extend the shelf-life for perishable foods for up to seven days.
After processing is complete, the gasses revert back to ambient air, with no harmful residues left on the food.
"We have been searching for cutting edge food safety and loss reduction technologies for years,” said Seth Silverman, principal, Factor[e] Ventures.
“In Clean Crop, we've found a technology and a team with the potential to remove food safety-related trade barriers that prevent smallholder farmers from accessing high value global markets.”
Silverman continued, “Clean Crop is the perfect example of what we do at Factor[e]: commercialize advanced technologies for the benefit of low-income populations in developing economies. We are excited to help bring this powerful loss reduction technology to our markets.”
With the capital from this round, Clean Crop plans to expand the technical and product development capacity of its team. In addition to these goals, U.S.-based field trials of Clean Crop’s High Voltage Atmospheric Cold Plasma (HVACP) technology are scheduled to begin later this year, with Clean Crop targeting commercial launches in emerging markets and in the U.S. in 2021.
"Prime Impact Fund is extremely proud to call Clean Crop our first agriculture investment,” said Amy Duffuor, principal at Prime Impact Fund, and director on Clean Crop's Board.
“We have been continuously impressed by the team, and are excited by the prospect of scaling their technology, initially in a focused beachhead market and expanding into many categories of high-volume crops. We have conviction that Clean Crop can drastically reduce emissions in one of the largest greenhouse gas wedges, and build a large, self-sustaining business.”
"We are excited to be partnering with Prime Impact Fund, Factor[e] Ventures, and the rest of our investors to bring our breakthrough technology to market,” added Dan White, CEO of Clean Crop.
“This investment will enable us to accelerate R&D, and hone in on the best path to market for our tech. We look forward to leveraging our investors' significant experience and networks in hardware R&D and agricultural markets in this exciting new phase for the company.”
- Lynda Kiernan is editor with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, and HighQuest Group's Oilseed & Grain News. She is also a contributor to the GAI Gazette. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.