The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations is backing RTP-based startup AgBiome with hard dollars, hoping the company’s crop science technology will lead to better harvests – especially for “poor farmers.”

AgBiome, which in 2013 raised an initial round of $14 million and added $3 million more later, disclosed Thursday a whopping $34.5 million Series B round with the Gates Foundation as part of the group. It’s a new investor.


“Poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face tremendous hurdles, such as unproductive soil, plant diseases, pests and drought,” said Vipula Shukla, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in the announcement

“This investment will ensure that AgBiome’s expertise is applied to creating new, affordable tools for these farmers that will protect their staple crops from pests and diseases.”

AgBiome is growing rapidly and will be moving into a new headquarters later this year that’s being built by the Research Triangle Foundation, which operates RTP.

And the other investors of the crop science startup are impressive:

  • The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO)
  • Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund

Series A round investors also participated in the new round. They include:

  • Polaris Partners
  • ARCH Venture Partners
  • Harris & Harris Group
  • Innotech Advisers
  • Monsanto Growth Ventures
  • Syngenta Ventures

“”We couldn’t be happier about adding these great new investors to the AgBiome family,” said Andrew Graham, CFO of AgBiome, in a statement. “The combination of marquee investors, our R&D partnerships, and the terrific team we are continuing to build puts us in a unique position to be the most successful agricultural innovator ever.”