Technology Acceleration Partners (TechAccel), announced two deals to advance scientific discoveries in the agriculture sector. TechAccel is a private capital development company created in August 2014 to invest in, acquire and advance discoveries in agriculture, animal health and food ingredient sectors.
In the first transaction, TechAccel has entered into a licensing agreement for a bio-pesticide with Kansas State University. The agreement between the two organizations secures an exclusive license on the patent entitled, "Doubled-stranded RNA-based Nanoparticles for Insect Gene Silencing."
The bio-pesticide is novel in that it is built on a naturally occurring and biodegradable platform, while effective in eliminating damage to crops and plants from a variety of insects. TechAccel expects to sublicense the technology to global leaders in crop and plant protection.
The pesticide has additional application in a variety of areas beyond crop protection, including the home and garden market for managing mosquitos and other pests, as well as enhancing virus and parasite resistance in the rapidly expanding seafood aquaculture sector.
In the second transaction, TechAccel made an equity investment and science advancement commitment in Benson Hill Biosystems. Specifically, the investment is in a new technology platform which The MIT Review named as a 2015 breakthrough technology of the year. Benson Hill's science is focused on enhancing photosynthetic efficiency in crops with an emphasis on increased overall energy availability to the crops in stressed environments such as drought and high temperatures.
Boosting crop yield on existing acreage and with limited inputs is the foremost challenge in sustainable production agriculture. With the global population projected to reach nine billion by 2015 and changing diets in the rapidly expanding middle class worldwide, agricultural output must double in this timeframe. Diminishing agricultural resources such as arable land and fresh water further compound this challenge.
"We believe the Benson Hill technology platform will have a significant impact on this supply and demand challenge," said Marty Bicknell, TechAccel co-founder, investor and board member.
"We spent much of our first year assessing the complex and evolving agriculture and animal health ecosystem, understanding scientific and market gaps as well as potential innovation solutions," said TechAccel lead founder and CEO Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D. "Both of these transactions demonstrate TechAccel's fierce commitment to collaboratively advance transformative science. Our diverse and expanding portfolio of investments remains focused on highly impactful technologies in need of scientific advancement and acceleration to the global marketplace."
TechAccel just completed its second round of funding since its inception a year ago. The company evaluates technologies primarily in five research pillars: RNAi applications, animal feed and nutrition, crop production and enhancement, soil and water and animal vaccines and therapeutics.
"TechAccel has rapidly become a valuable collaborator in the agriculture and animal health sectors," said TechAccel Board Vice Chairman and investor Gary Forsee. "Our value-add approach of bringing investment capital coupled with best-in-class, integrated science solutions allows us to have a broad impact on the global food challenge."