March 8, 2017
Lincoln, Neb. — Epicrop Technologies Inc., a company co-founded by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ralph and Alice Raikes Professor Sally Mackenzie, announced it has closed a $3.2 million Series A-2 financing round. The funding will be used to further develop its epigenetic technology that creates large increases in yield and stress tolerance in crops. Epicrop is a Nebraska Innovation Campus partner and is based in Lincoln, NE.
“The pressure is on all of us in agriculture to deliver higher performing plants in the face of challenges like climate change and increasing global demand,” said Mackenzie, who is also the inventor and lead investigator of the revolutionary technology. “This technology is a critical step forward in addressing those problems head on.”
“We believe Dr. Mackenzie’s research may represent the most important breakthrough in crop breeding technology of this era. We’re pleased to support the commercialization of this research at Epicrop and look forward to the impact it will have for global agriculture,” said Jeff Raikes of North Forty Ventures and lead investor. Other investors include Tech Accel, Nelnet, Speedway Properties and Allen & Company.
The startup is pioneering the use of epigenetics in agriculture, a type of biological information that involves changes in gene expression but does not change a plant’s DNA or add genes. In field and greenhouse trials, epigenetically improved plants – soybeans, tomatoes, sorghum and Arabidopsis – show increased yields and stress tolerance. Epicrop has received 2 Phase 1 competitive SBIR grants and is partnering with several seed industry leaders to begin improving current elite commercial varieties.
“We’re very excited to have previous and new investors on board who appreciate the game changing potential of this technology,” said Michael Fromm, chief executive of Epicrop Technologies. “Their support will help Epicrop accelerate its programs demonstrating the enormous potential of epigenetics to increase yields and stress tolerance in a variety of crops.”
“Increasing yield and stress tolerance are key goals of most seed companies. Epicrop’s method has the potential to provide these traits by adding epigenetic information directly to the seeds of commercial varieties without adding any genetic material. The unique features of this method readily fit into traditional commercial breeding and seed production methods to facilitate company adoption of this system,” said Fromm.
Epicrop Technologies, Inc. is a seed technology company based in Lincoln, NE and Nebraska Innovation Campus Partner. Epicrop’s epigenetic technology platform utilizes conventional plant breeding techniques and cutting edge molecular markers to create and select plants with enhanced yield and vigor characteristics.Justin Raikes
Director of Business Development
Epicrop Technologies, Inc.