Bayer CropScience and Flagship Ventures join forces to fund startups in agriculture

Kamenskoye crop production rises 20%

Bayer CropScience is joining Flagship Ventures in a strategic partnership which includes a $537 million investment to fund agricultural innovations.

The partnership seeks to identify startup companies that may impact the future of agriculture and provide them with funding and support. Support is also given to Flagship’s VentureLabs, an innovation foundry aimed at developing startups with this mission.

Bayer itself has a reputation as an innovator. About 10 percent of the sales of Bayer CropScience’s various technologies are reinvested in research and development annually.

Weather volatility, pest issues and consumer demand have left the agriculture industry looking for new solutions to meet a changing world.

Bayer has developed both biological and chemical crop protection solutions and the research pipeline at Bayer contains as many as 30 projects in development.

“Ten-20 years ago technology being applied to food production was mostly chemistry,” said Claudia Karsten, spokesperson for Bayer CropScience. “More recently, breeding and trait technologies came to the forefront and continue to advance more rapidly than ever. Bayer has strong leadership in both of these areas.”

To that end, Bayer also is investing in venture capital in the agriculture industry as well, with partnerships like Flagship Ventures and their February partnership with Finistere.

“Working with them gives us insight into new technologies, especially disruptive ones we really need to know about,” Karsten said.

Bayer’s investment isn’t limited to money. As a strategic partner with Flagship Ventures, Bayer will lend its expertise in science, innovation and regulatory affairs.

Where venture capital firms regularly identify companies with potential and offer them funding, the arrangement with Bayer adds something more, Karsten said. “Bayer can offer its knowledge to help develop these new technologies and bring them to market,” she said.