Inari Raises $208M Series D to Unlock The Full Potential of Soybean, Corn Seeds
By Lynda Kiernan, Global AgInvesting Media
Massachusetts-based mission-driven seed breeding technology company Inari has raised $208 million in capital through a Series D co-led by its founder Flagship Pioneering, bringing total funding to-date for the company to $352 million.
This latest round also saw participation by a number of existing investors including Alexandria Venture Investments, Investment Corporation of Dubai, Banque Pictet on behalf of their clients, and Rivas Capital. New investors joining the round were G Squared and Pavilion Capital.
One year ago, in April 2020, the company secured $45 million through a loan and security agreement with life sciences-focused investor K2 HeathVentures (K2HV). This capital was complementary to an $89 million Series C raised by the company in August 2019 that was funded by Flagship Pioneering, along with Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), global investor EDBI, and Acre Venture Partners, as well as additional unnamed investors.
It also builds upon a $40 million Series B raised by the company in August 2018 that was led by Flagship and included Acre Venture Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Launched in 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Inari was created with a mission to transform agriculture and mitigate its impact on society and the environment through new approaches to plant breeding that reduce the natural resources needed to grow food for a more sustainable future.
Through its SEEDesign™ platform, Inari takes a two-step approach to its technology. Using predictive design and artificial intelligence, Inari builds blueprints for its cutting-edge combination of gene editing tools that enable multiple edits within a single genome. It is these edits that help create seeds that increase yields while also reducing the environmental footprint of agricultural production, enabling products to get to market quicker and at a lower cost compared to traditional channels.
“When we founded Inari, we had a simple yet bold and compelling vision to fundamentally transform the global food system through using cutting-edge science and technology to unlock the full potential of seeds,” said Robert Berendes, executive partner, Flagship Pioneering.
“At the same time, we believed we could do so in a way that restores our planet, significantly broadens the options for farmers and greatly expands the biodiversity of the food that we eat,” continued Berendes. “This fundraise is a testament to that initial vision becoming an imminent reality and being recognized as a leader in this nature-positive work by investors.”
Since its founding, through its SEEDesign™ platform, Inari has made impressive strides in delivering scientific breakthroughs and commercial development to arrive at the cusp of “something genuinely and globally important”.
By demonstrating the viability and efficacy of making multiple types of targeted edits within a single genome, Inari has created an opportunity to not only exponentially improve yields, but to also have real positive effect upon water and fertilizer use efficiencies. This Series D will support Inari in accelerating these advancements across its tech platform and in the product development of corn and soybean seeds in both North and South America.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates both the progress and incredible potential of the company,” said Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO, Inari. “We are very pleased with the strength of our investor base, bringing in international support across new and existing investors.”
“We are taking a nature-positive approach to advance new possibilities with seed using predictive design and advanced multiplex gene editing,” added Trivisvavet. “Our technology matches the complexity and diversity of nature to address the needs of the planet and society. And we have the ability to enhance any seed for any geography, making our products – and impact –globally scalable.”
This funding also gives Inari the backing needed to remain competitive with Benson Hill – another computational seed breeding company that only days ago announced it was going public at a valuation of $2 billion through a merger with special purpose acquisition company Star Peak Corp II.
The company manifests its seed-to-shelf innovation through CropOS™, its platform that uses predictive analytics to simulate tens of millions of genetic outcomes for plants, referencing an ever-expanding and unrivaled data library to make Cloud Biology® actionable.
This technology enables Benson Hill to accelerate and precisely develop more sustainable feed, food, and ingredient options years quicker than traditional crop breeding systems through an approach that decreases development costs, shortens time to market, meets consumer demand, and links the interests of both the growers and consumers.
Like Inari, an initial focus for Benson Hill is the soybean. Currently, the company is working with its partner growers to scale production of its Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties in 2021, which can reduce processing costs, as well as water and energy usage.
– 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, as well as HighQuest Group’s Oilseed & Grain News. She can be reached at email@example.com.