Boston-based ag-tech startup Indigo said it has closed a $100 million Series C private equity investment round led by the $54 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, with participation from previous investors, including Flagship Ventures and members of the management and board.
As part of a long-term commitment to Indigo, the Alaska Permanent Fund also intends to invest a similar amount in Indigo’s future financings, the company said.
Indigo, formerly known as Symbiota, was founded in 2014 by Flagship VentureLabs, with the goal of harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. The company utilizes beneficial microbes residing within plant tissue to optimize crop health and improve productivity. The company’s first two commercial products are Indigo Cotton and Indigo Wheat.
During the last two years, with $56 million in funding led by Flagship Ventures, Indigo has tested beneficial microbes on more than a dozen different crops across three continents in four growing seasons. Its cotton trials have consistently shown 10 percent or greater yield increases under targeted stress conditions, including water scarcity, the company says. These early indications of productivity improvements have the potential for significant impact at commercial scale.
The new funds will be applied to expand ongoing research and development efforts, to extend Indigo’s team, and to scale commercial operations in preparation for the launch of the company’s second product offering later this year, Indigo Wheat, which will also target water use efficiency. The company is focused on consistently dry areas of the United States, which include more than 20 million acres of wheat.
“While early, we believe our approach has the potential to fundamentally change agriculture for the better,” said David Perry, CEO of Indigo. “We are committed to partnering with growers to develop this innovation to benefit both their business and their land.”
Capitalizing on the company’s Boston roots and the wealth of academic and scientific talent in the area, Indigo has recently relocated to a 65,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Charlestown, Mass., which includes research labs and the world’s largest Conviron grow room. The new facilities will accommodate the company’s rapidly growing team, which is expected to double this year.
The Alaska Permanent Fund is invested as a perpetual resource for all current and future generations of Alaskans. The fund is comprised of a diverse, global portfolio of public and private assets including targeted long-term investments in a few private companies, including American Homes 4 Rent (NYSE: AMH), Denali Therapeutics, and Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JUNO).