Nov. 12, 2021
Crop protection start-up Ascribe Bioscience has raised a $2.5M Seed Round co-led by The Yield Lab and Acre Venture Partners. Impact-oriented investors Trailhead Capital and Ponderosa Ventures also participated in the financing. The investment will enable Ascribe to accelerate commercial development of their lead product Phytalix: an environmentally-friendly, broad spectrum biopesticide based on a naturally-occurring small molecule from the soil microbiome.
Ascribe was founded in 2017 based on discoveries by Professors Dan Klessig and Frank Schroeder at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University. Ascribe CEO Dr. Jay Farmer explains, “Ascribe’s strategy has been to focus on the soil microbiome as a source of novel small molecules with potential as crop protection products. With Phytalix, we have proven that we can develop natural molecules into products that are safe and environmentally-friendly, but also have the cost and performance characteristics expected by mainstream farmers.”
Part of the new financing will be used to expand field trials in wheat, soy, potatoes, and other crops. In the 2021 growing season, Ascribe conducted dozens of successful trials with Phytalix across North America in collaboration with USDA and university scientists, contract research organizations, and several leading crop protection firms. Phytalix treatments consistently showed decreased disease pressure and yield benefits equal or better than best-in-class chemical fungicides.
Kyle Welborn, Managing Director at The Yield Lab who co-led the investment, highlighted “The Yield Lab has evaluated thousands of early-stage agtech investment opportunities. What distinguishes Ascribe is the quality of the research--with publications in top peer-reviewed journals--and the unique product profile of their leads. We see tremendous opportunity for crop protection that is as safe as a biological but works as well as a chemical.” Following the investment, Welborn will join the company’s board along with Alex Bondar of Acre Venture Partners.
The current seven-member team at Ascribe is anchored by chemist Jay Farmer, plant pathologist and biochemist Murli Manohar, and agtech industry veteran Gabriel Wilmoth. The company plans to expand operations in New York with additional hires in plant science, process chemistry and agronomy.