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Agribody Technologies, Inc.

Reduce food waste by using patented non-GMO genome editing

USA, California
Market: Farming
Stage of the project: Operating business

Date of last change: 11/25/2019
Min investment
$  500.000
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Total required
$ 2.000.000
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Idea

We significantly increase the shelf life of perishable produce by genome editing a fundamental and highly validated genetic switch that controls cell fate in all plants using patent protected technology.

Current Status

We own 15 issued US patents with claims to transgenic applications toward a highly conserved 2-gene switch that controls cell fate in all plants. Filed utility Patent applications with broad claims confirming genome editing generated similar traits to transgenics.
Received licensing revenues from 9 seed companies, with a deep Bus Dev funnel. In-licensed CRISPR 3.0 with sublicensing rights. Raised $1.5 Mil investment in a convertible note seed round.

Market

The global seeds market is $45 Bil, of which 35% ($15 Bil) is biotech. The US row crop TAM (alfalfa, cotton, sugarbeet, canola, potato, rice & sorghum,) is $2.3 Bil for yield & stress tolerance, with a fruit & vegetable TAM of $1 Bil for shelf life extension. Our SAM is $0.9 Bil. Initial focus will be on tomato, potato, camelina, roses, lettuce, corn & soy.

Problem or Opportunity

Agribody Technologies, Inc. (ATI) of San Diego, California, is an agricultural biotech technology licensing, co-development, and crop breeding startup whose customers/partners are seed companies with their own elite commercial germplasm. ATI’s unique crop genetic technology provides benefits throughout the supply chain, from improved crops for farmers to more efficient use of scarce resources, to lower prices for better products for consumers. Our novel target-validated genome editing platform, which includes the regulation of two highly conserved genes (elF-5A and DHS), is expected to increase yields, stress tolerance, and shelf life of agricultural products.
Shelf life is really important because it directly impacts food waste. There are several physical and chemical methods to extend shelf life. The importance of food security can’t be overestimated. It’s thought that we need to increase crop yields by 70 percent in the next 30 growing seasons. I don’t disagree with this, but it’s obvious that if we didn’t waste a third of our food – about 1.3 billion tons a year – we might not have to increase yields at all. Our traits are not going to completely solve the food security problem, but I think we can make a substantial impact. We’ve already proven it with bananas, tomatoes, etc. It’s obvious that if we combine current physical and chemical methods – cold chain, edible coatings, inert gasses, packaging – with our genetic technology, we probably have a huge winner.

Solution (product or service)

Patented gene switch technology increases agricultural resilience and sustainability. CRISPR genome editing is the technical breakthrough enabling precise novel plant trait development at low cost and scale. Low regulatory barriers in the US and many other countries (not EU) resulted in democratization of commercialization unlike transgenics ("GMOs").

Competitors

Arcadia Biosciences, Ceres, Kapyon/ZeaKal, Yield10 Bioscience, Kaiima.
Our competing companies typically focus on photosynthesis [by converting C3 to C4 plants] and stress tolerance, but it’s rare that any single transgene can boost yields of an elite variety by >10%, even under controlled greenhouse conditions.

Advantages or differentiators

We acquired transgenic IP that cost prior owners >$6 Mil to produce, and successfully completed two years of replicated field trials of a commercially elite variety of alfalfa genetically engineered to upregulate eIF5A3. Many transgenic progeny were shown to have unprecedented 20%-45% increased yield with no reduction in product quality. A manuscript is available.

Elite lines of transgenic potato with downregulated DHS have completed greenhouse testing and two years of field trials.

ATI supported research to reduce activity of the DHS protein in canola (CRISPR-Cas9) and rice (two labs using CRISPR-Cms1). Results support one of the fundamental ideas behind the formation of ATI: reducing DHS protein activity using genome editing produces superior progeny similar to down-regulating expression of the corresponding gene using transgenic methods. We’re pursuing similar experiments with potato, tomato, sweetcorn, soy, camelina, lettuce, rose, and other crops.

Finance

Raised $1.5 Mil in convertible note seed round from 3 VCs, 3 family offices, a strategic partner, an alfalfa seed company, 9 angels, and Dr. Feitelson.

Current fundraising target: $2 Mil for Series Seed Preferred priced round now, followed by a $5 Mil Series A expected in 18-24 months.

Business model

Revenues will come from partial ownership of ultra-high yielding seeds through co-development/trait introgression partnerships, or licensing fees with technology access fees, benchmark payments & royalties on product sales. Seed company customers are expected in 23 targeted crops. We expect per crop: (a) 33 - 50% of seed trait value in co-development, (b) licensing $15k-$100k Tech Access Fee, $25K -$150K in benchmark payments for development milestones + trailing royalties, and (c) trait introgression from ATI donor germplasm to rapidly scale at $20,000 per client variety + royalties.

Money will be spent on

- Expand IP
- Form partnerships or license technology to seed companies in 8 crops for Genome Edited products
- Support research in collaborator labs
- Establish lab for trait introgression
- Working Capital

Offer for investor

Preferred Stock at a proposed $7 Mil pre-money valuation
Proforma Cap Tables with estimated ROIs under certain assumptions are available

Team or Management

Risks

Regulatory pushback on genome edited crops without any "foreign DNA" that are indistinguishable from "naturally occurring" mutations. Currently this is not a problem in US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Sweden, Japan. But the EU is a problem, and they can effect trade policy in countries that export to them.

Inability to raise necessary financing

Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment

Portfolio company of:
The Yield Lab (St. Louis, MO)
Plug & Play Food & Beverage (Sunnyvale, CA)
THRIVE (Los Gatos, Salinas, CA)

Won the competition and other awards

Won AG/SUM pitch competition in Tokyo, Japan (Jun-2018)

Invention/Patent

6,849,782 Arabidopsis Antisense Deoxyhypusine Synthase Molecule and Method of Inhibiting Deoxyhypusine Synthase Expression in Plants
6,855,529 DNA encoding a plant deoxyhypusine synthase, a plant eukaryotic initiation factor 5A, transgenic plants and a method for controlling senescence programmed and cell death in plants
6,878,860 DNA Encoding a Plant Deoxyhypusine Synthase, a Plant Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 5A, Transgenic Plants and a Method for Controlling Senescence Programmed and Cell Death in Plants
6,897,359 Carnation Antisense Deoxyhypusine Synthase Molecule and Method of Inhibiting Deoxyhypusine Synthase Expression in Plants
6,900,368 Tomato Antisense Deoxyhypusine Synthase Molecule and Method of Inhibiting Deoxyhypusine Synthase Expression in Plants
6,989,258 DNA encoding a plant deoxyhypusine synthase, a plant eukaryotic initiation factor 5A, transgenic plants and a method for controlling senescence programmed and cell death in plants
7,033,833 Polynucleotides Encoding Carnation Senescence-induced eIF-5A
7,070,997 Isolated Nucleotides Encoding Tomato Senescence-induced eIF-5A
7,087,419 DNA Encoding a Plant Lipase, Transgenic Plants and a Method for Controlling Senescence in Plants
7,226,784 Isolated Nucleotides Encoding Arabidopsis Senescence-induced eIF-5A
7,265,280 Polynucleotides Encoding Carnation Senescence-induced DHS
7,358,418 Isoforms of eIF-5A: Senescence-induced eIF-5A; Wounding-induced eIF-5A; Growth eIF-5A: and DHS
7,663,028 Method of Increasing Seed Yield and Growth eIF-5A
8,232,455 Polynucleotides Encoding Canola DHS and Antisense Polynucleotides Thereof
8,563,285 Isoforms of eIF-5A: Senescence-induced eIF-5A; Wounding-induced eIF-5A; Growth eIF-5A: and DHS
2019/0203220 Plants With Modified DHS Genes

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Idea
Current Status
Market
Problem or Opportunity
Solution (product or service)
Competitors
Advantages or differentiators
Finance
Invested in previous rounds, $
Business model
Money will be spent on
Offer for investor
Team or Management
Mentors & Advisors
Lead investor
Risks
Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment
Won the competition and other awards
Invention/Patent
Photos
Product Video
Website address