Venture Capital News: CoverCress Secures $5M Equity Round
ST. LOUIS, MO, CoverCress has closed a $5 million follow-on equity investment round.
CoverCress Inc. (formerly Arvegenix Inc.) has closed a $5 million follow-on equity investment round to continue its development of a new winter oilseed crop named CoverCress. This crop enables farmers in the southern half of the Midwest to grow three crops each two years, getting more from their existing farmland and equipment. CoverCress is planted at corn harvest in fall and is harvested immediately prior to soybean planting in May. In addition to new revenue from the oilseed crop, it also builds soil health, and holds soil and nutrients in place over winter as a cover crop. Its grain contains oil and protein similar to that of canola, with a very
unique feature: a very low carbon intensity.
"We have had significant interest from companies investigating our potential to produce
and scale this low carbon intensive oil for bio and renewable diesel markets, as well as
companies seeking more non-GM protein meal sources", said Jerry Steiner,
CoverCress Inc.'s CEO.
The company was founded in 2013, and based its work on developing CoverCress from
the native plant pennycress through plant breeding and the new genome editing tools. It
has built its team to over 20 members plus a broad partnership with Illinois State
University, the University of Minnesota, and Western Illinois University, including
participation in a large USDA grant program called iprefer (www.iprefercap.org). "The
broad partnership base is designed to enable this opportunity, originally from work at
the USDA in Peoria IL, and advanced by these Universities to become a commercial
opportunity for farmers across the Midwest. It's something that no single partner could
do alone", said Steiner.
This new funding supports CoverCress' planned commercialization in the fall of 2021,
with the goal of ultimately growing to millions of acres across the southern Midwest.
The investment round was led by Fulcrum Global Capital and Hermann Companies.
Other investors include Prelude Ventures, Leaps by Bayer, St. Louis Arch Angels, and
Prolog Ventures, as well as continued investment from some founders and employees.
CoverCress also announced the expansion of its leadership Team with Mike DeCamp
joining as Chief Operating Officer. Mike will initially focus on building the value chain to
support the company's 2021 commercial launch. Mike has over thirty years of
diversified experience in agribusiness, corporate finance, law, corporate strategy and
M&A. He most recently spent 8 years with Teays River Investments, an ag focused
investment firm. Prior to that, Mike spent over a decade with Monsanto in various legal,
corporate strategy and operational roles, including the development of an
entrepreneurial business model that directly served farmers through regional corn and
soybean seed companies.
"We have been very fortunate to have a committed group of investors. Our core group
of investors have reinvested each opportunity since 2015. This stability has led to great
progress in the challenge of developing a new crop and value chain. We are pleased
that as we have advanced our crop development, farmers have shown great interest in
learning how to integrate this new cash crop into their operations. They like this new
cover crop opportunity that also generates income for them" said Steiner.
"This is a critical time for innovation that helps agriculture be a bigger part of the solution
to the changing climate, said John Peryam, partner at Fulcrum Global Capital
"CoverCress does this by making a low carbon intensity feedstock and a new source of
carbon sequestration for Midwest farmers, without replacing the exiting corn and
"Being part of the 39N Ag innovation ecosystem in St Louis has really helped
CoverCress accelerate the delivery of this new technology for Midwestern farmers, said
Rick Holton from Hermann Companies.
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