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Tropic Biosciences gets $10m to test genetically edited bananas and coffee

Norwich-based BioTech company Tropic Biosciences has just closed a $10m (£7.49m) Series A funding round.

The round was led by AgriTech investor Pontifax AgTech and Five Seasons Ventures. These companies are joined by several co-investors including Tekfen Ventures and Emerald Technology Ventures.

Tropic Biosciences uses gene editing techniques, including CRISPR, to develop high-performing plant varieties. This fresh funding will help commercialise the company’s non-GMO coffee and bananas through greenhouse and field trials, and to gain regulatory approval for those plant varieties. It will also be used to support its global expansion and to develop new plant types beyond coffee and bananas.

The gene editing techniques used by Tropic Biosciences help to accelerate breeding and also to address some of the significant disease and supply chain issues that crops face by preventing the development of naturally occurring traits.

Tropic Biosciences was founded in 2016 by Dr Eyal Maori (CSO), also co-founder of Beelogics; Dr Ofir Meir (CTO), former project manager at Rosetta Green; and Gilad Gershon (CEO), an experienced AgriTech private equity investor.  

Gershon and Maori said: “We are wholly committed to enacting real change in the global agriculture industry. We aim to aid growers by bringing genetic innovation to crops and geographies that have seen little such innovation to date; and to promote global health and consumer wellbeing by developing highly nutritious, versatile plant varieties.

“Our team is excited to have such value-added investors join our efforts and look forward to utilising the new funds in accomplishing our goal of transforming the vast global agriculture industry,” they added.  

The GM plants have potential to increase crop stability, and address unmet nutritional needs within the global coffee and banana industries, the company states.

Ben Belldegrun, founder and managing partner of Pontifax AgTech, has been appointed to the board of directors for Tropic.

He commented on the news: “Gene editing is a transformative technology which represents a huge global opportunity, with potential in not just the biotech industry but also in the wider agriculture supply chain. In Tropic Biosciences’ highly experienced team, we and our co-investors see the potential to redefine consumer health, nutrition and improved yields

“We look forward to providing expertise and access to our extensive network of growers and strategic players to support the further growth of Tropic Biosciences and the commercialisation of its industry leading tools,” he concluded.