Venture Capital: Enko, Which Uses AI To Discover Crop Protection Molecules, Raises $70M

Gates-backed Enko designs safe and sustainable solutions to farmers’ biggest crop threats today.

Enko announced its $70 million Series C funding round led by agrochem company Nufarm with participation by Anterra Capital, Taher Gozal, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Eight Roads Ventures, Finistere Ventures, Novalis LifeSciences, Germin8 Ventures, TO Ventures Food, Endeavor8, Alumni Ventures Group and Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund. (CISION PR NEWSWIRE)

The need for sustainable crop protection chemicals

There is a critical need for crop treatments that are safe for human health, soil health, waterways, and overall crop ecosystems.

Weeds and more than 600 species of pests have developed some resistance to pesticides. Meanwhile approved chemicals treatments can take upwards of a decade to develop and commercialize. This has implications for global food security.

Enko’s AI-based discovery technology and predictive analytics to locate new molecules and processes for preserving and protecting crops. The five-year-old startup seeks to offer economical, sustainable alternatives to traditional chemical-based crop treatments that have questionable efficacy.

Enko’s platform can screen molecules to assess how they would impact crops, weeds, and pests, as well as identify potential toxicity issues. This method is efficient, fast, and relatively less costly for the discovery of pest and weed alternatives to chemical treatments. Enko’s target-based approach has generated its industry-leading discoveries in roughly half the time and with fewer resources than conventional R&D methods.

Enko also has collaborations in place with Syngenta and Bayer on developing new crop protection chemistries.

Enko will use the proceeds of the latest round to further boost its product pipeline as well as expand its technology platform for the discovery of better crop protection chemistries.

“Enko’s digital platform massively increases the scale and discovery rate for new solutions, screening out off-target organisms from the get-go,” said Enko CEO and founder Jacqueline Heard. “The result is bringing safe and effective products to growers better, faster and cheaper. The need for this innovation has never been more urgent.”

Related Story: Brightseed Raises $68M For AI-Researched Health-Benefiting Compounds

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