Ag-tech Startup Indigo Raises $100 Million

Simone McCarthy reported yesterday at The Christian Science Monitor Online that, “Agriculture is in a tough spot.

“The population is expected to teeter over 9.6 billion in 2050, and feeding this global citizenry will require a staggering 70 percent more food than the world produces now, says the United Nations.

“For agriculture, this means increasing production while also contending with the effects of climate change, which have already caused drought around the world.”

Ms. McCarthy noted that, “This essential dilemma has spurred innovation and investment in the agricultural industry, including a record $100 million in second-round funds for Indigo, an agriculture technology start-up. The money, awarded Thursday, represents the largest single financing round in the history of the private ag-tech sector, says the company.

This investment points to growing investor interest in the ag-tech industry, particularly companies that are targeting the challenges of 21st century farming.

“In this case, investor interest in Indigo centers around something very, very small: microbes that make seeds more resilient to water shortages – a trait that could help agriculture fight the global trend toward a hotter (and drier) climate in coming decades.”

Yesterday’s article explained that, “Boston-based Indigo plans to see how their reformulated wheat seeds fare this coming fall when they are planted in 20 million acres of water-limited fields in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, Reuters reports.

“The theory behind the microbe technology is not new: researchers began noting how plant roots interact with bacterial microbes – which can add boons to plant growth like increased nitrogen absorption – decades ago. More recently, scientists’ ability to evaluate the effects of different microbes has vastly improved with DNA sequencing and data processing technology.

Indigo, along with other ag-tech companies, uses these tools to evaluate different microbes – around 40,000 so far, all logged into a database.”

The Monitor article added that, “Now that investors are on board, the next step is convincing farmers to try the seeds. Indigo is employing a unique business model for this: Instead of asking for any payment up front, the company is betting on its results, taking only a cut of the additional profit from increased yield.”

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