Temasek leads $28.5m funding in UK agritech firm Tropic Biosciences

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.

Singapore state investor Temasek has led the $28.5-million Series B funding in Tropic Biosciences, a UK-based agritech firm that focuses on protecting the global banana industry and other crops from the threat of diseases.

The round, which saw the participation of Sumitomo Corporation Europe, Genoa Ventures, Agronomics, Skyviews Life Science, and existing investors, comes at a time as when bananas are under huge threat from a disease that has recently been described as the “coronavirus of bananas”.

Bananas and coffee are two crop portfolio that Tropic focuses on. Combined, the annual market value of the two is worth over $50 billion. The company, however, disclosed that the crops currently face a wide range of critical challenges, from diseases and pests to climate change.

“Humanity’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly accelerating the need for technological solutions that promote food security on a global scale,” Gilad Gershon, CEO of Tropic Biosciences, said.

The company develops novel banana varieties that are resistant to Panama Disease (TR4), which it describes as an existential threat to the banana industry. It is also developing varieties of banana with longer shelf lives, alongside lines of coffee with reduced caffeine and increased solubility.

The fresh funding, which brings Tropic’s total funds raised to date to $40 million, will be used to accelerate the field trials of its novel banana and coffee varieties, the commercialisation of its technology platform, and the development of high-impact traits in rice, the company said.

Temasek, the lead investor in this funding round, has been actively investing in companies that seek to provide food security. In November, it invested in two early-stage agri-food funds – Big Idea Ventures for alternative proteins and Trendlines for agriculture technology- as it banks on technology to help Singapore achieve its food security goal.

Outside the city-state, Temasek also recently invested in Ascus Biosciences, a deep science animal health and nutrition company, and Bowery Farming Inc, a startup that uses robotics to cultivate crops indoors. Last month, the Singapore investor co-led the $100-million Series C funding in biotech fertilizer company. The three firms are based in the US.

Plant-based meat and seafood maker Growthwell also raised $8 million in a funding round led by Temasek in April.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.