Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), along with three other partners, has invested €5.7 million in a fledging local spin-off company from the Technical University of Madrid, Spain, called Plant Response Biotech. This venture into cutting-edge plant science will lead to more local researchers in agriculture and expand the European microbial technology marketplace with sustainable crop therapies.
“This investment will contribute to grow our highly qualified research staff,” said Eduardo Quemada, general manager at Plant Response Biotech.
In total, the agro-biological industry in Spain has an estimated market value of 300 million Euros, with an annual growth of 15%. Plant Response Biotech is one of the largest operations of its kind in Spain.
Plant Response Biotech has developed a broad portfolio of biological-based products to help farmers’ crops handle environmental stresses such as drought, plus biotic stress related to fungal and bacterial diseases. Both these factors reduce crop yields, which can result in risk for growers that affects the entire food chain, from the farm to the consumer.
One of Plant Response Biotech’s newest biological products is derived directly from plants. These plant metabolites and beneficial microorganisms, enhance a particular crop’s resilience and productivity when applied directly — or improve plant nutrient up-take. They have also identified plant genes that nurture the development of new crop varieties resulting in higher yield production and resistance to biological and environmental stresses. These include plant diseases that come from fungi, viruses and bacteria and better tolerance to drought or extreme temperatures.
The company’s own success in its technology was able to attract investment from international companies. Driving this initiative is Monsanto’s MGV (Monsanto Growth Ventures), our venture capital group which invests routinely in small technology companies that solve problems for farmers, supporting innovation in agriculture. The three other partners involved in this Series A financing include the venture capital division of La Caixa – Caixa Capital Risc, Middleland Capital and the world leader in biological solutions company Novozymes in Denmark.
This joint investment will enable Plant Response Biotech to increase its R&D teams, develop its technology pipeline and launch its current product portfolio and novel products to the market. As Monsanto already has innovative R&D capabilities, it makes sense to identify other research leaders in the growing agriculture market. Startups can then benefit from Monsanto’s long history of agricultural R&D innovations.
This work compliments our recent global announcement on Tuesday 1st December 2015 that we aim to make all of our operations carbon neutral by 2021. This will involve applying various approaches across seed and crop protection operations, applying new data science and precision engineering practices and partnering with farmers. In the US alone, this could reduce emissions from carbon dioxide equivalent to 233 million barrels of oil per year.