RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Feb. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Vestaron, a company dedicated to improving the safety, efficacy and sustainability of crop protection through its development of peptide-based biopesticides, announces $18 million in Series B-1 financing, led by Northpond Ventures. Northpond and additional new investor, Cavallo Ventures, the venture arm of Wilbur-Ellis, join continuing investors Novo Holdings, Syngenta Ventures, CGC Ventures and Anterra Capital in this round. Adam Wieschhaus, Director at Northpond Ventures, will join the Vestaron Board of Directors.
With its proprietary platform for the optimization, production and delivery of peptide-based biopesticides, Vestaron is leading the development of a novel class of crop protection products – peptides (small proteins). These peptides have the proven modes of action and thus the same efficacy as traditional synthetics with the safety and environmental friendliness of biologics. These products provide an essential new tool for growers as some existing products face increasing regulatory pressure due to environmental concerns and others decline in their efficacy due to the development of resistance.
The Series B-1 financing was designed to accelerate Vestaron's commercial development. The company's lead insecticidal peptide, Spear®, completed its first year of full commercialization in 2020. Spear was launched both as Spear-Lep, targeting lepidopteran pests in specialty crops, and Spear-T, targeting soft-bodied insects such as thrips, whiteflies, aphids, mites and drosophila. Launch year sales were strong despite COVID headwinds, reaching 3% market share in California pistachios. This strong market traction was fueled both by Spear's IRAC-validated novel mode of action and by its demonstrated efficacy on par with leading synthetics – including efficacy out to 30 days after application in a major study in almonds. Strong enthusiasm on the part of both Vestaron's channel partners and major growers – including many expecting more than 10x year-over-year growth in usage – point to an acceleration for 2021.
This round was substantially over-subscribed, leaving the company well-capitalized heading into this year of commercial expansion throughout North America. Vestaron is excited to welcome both Northpond and Cavallo as new members of a deep and strong investor syndicate now supporting the company.
Anna Rath, CEO at Vestaron said: "The crop protection industry is suffering from a general dearth of innovation. Product development costs and timelines are increasing, and the pace of introduction of new active ingredients is decreasing. A sustainable future for agriculture requires innovation.
"Many existing solutions are being pulled from the market as a result of environmental concerns, and those that remain face the prospect of far more rapid development of resistance with fewer options for rotation. Without a solid portfolio of crop-protection solutions, agriculture faces the prospect of declining yields and, as a result, the need for a significant increase in land use in order to meet growing demands.
"Vestaron's rich pipeline of safe, environmentally friendly active ingredients that have the efficacy of synthetics but also readily meet the rising bar of regulatory scrutiny, are an essential element of empowering growers and enabling the future sustainability of the industry.
"This funding will allow us to build on our commercial success to date, delivering our innovations to more growers here in the U.S. and, in the near future, Mexico and Canada, where producers are facing similar pest and environmental concerns."
Adam Wieschhaus, Director at Northpond Ventures, commented: "The importance of clean water, clean air, safe food, and other environmental and sustainable resources is enormous and largely driven by science. We want to do our part to apply scientific ingenuity toward major societal challenges and build a better tomorrow while cultivating a sustainable environment for the future.
"Having made nearly 40 investments within the scientific, medical, and technology sectors in the past three years since Northpond's inception, this investment in Vestaron marks a momentous occasion as our first in the environmental sciences space. We have looked at quite a number of businesses, yet none have resulted in the same level of confidence as we have in Anna, the Vestaron team, and their business impact on the environment and future of human health."
Mike Wilbur, President of Cavallo Ventures, added: "Cavallo Ventures and Wilbur-Ellis will always live by this motto: Our company doesn't succeed until our customer does. Only by listening to them can we fully understand the problem before looking for a solution. The past decade has brought sweeping changes to our business – changes driven by, among other things, our customers' need for innovation and demand for increased sustainability, including both environmental impact and worker safety.
"Emerging technologies are playing a huge role in creating disruption in our industry. We see Vestaron as a leader in addressing this combined need for innovation and sustainability and therefore a powerful solution in helping both Wilbur-Ellis and the industry more broadly meet these evolving customer and consumer needs."
About Vestaron Vestaron is leading a peptide-based revolution in crop protection. We are committed to providing growers with novel, effective chemistries that address proven targets. Our peptides overcome existing resistance issues while offering a desired safety profile for workers, beneficials and the environment. Vestaron has earned global recognition for its work, including the inaugural 2015 Bernard Blum Award for novel biocontrol solutions, a 2020 THRIVE Top 50 Growth-Stage honoree, and the prestigious Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute in 2020.
Spear® is a registered trademark of Vestaron Corporation.
About Northpond Ventures Northpond Ventures is a global science, medical, and technology focused venture capital firm, with offices in Bethesda, Cambridge, and San Francisco. Northpond Ventures has in excess of $1 billion of committed capital. Our mission is to build a better tomorrow. Learn more at: www.npv.vc
About the Wilbur-Ellis Companies Founded in 1921, the Wilbur-Ellis companies are leading international marketers, distributors and manufacturers of agricultural products, animal nutrients and specialty chemicals and ingredients. By developing strong relationships, making strategic market investments and capitalizing on new opportunities, the Wilbur-Ellis companies have continued to grow the business with sales of over $3 billion. For more information, please visit www.wilburellis.com
CONTACTS: Sherry Mitchell, Director of Marketing, Vestaron • (919) 609.6704 • [email protected] Saramaya Penacho, Director of PR & Communications, Northpond Ventures • (208) 610.3375 • [email protected] Jeanne Forbis, VP Corporate Communications, Wilbur-Ellis • (628) 224-3053 • [email protected]