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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Biopesticides developer Vestaron is ramping up commercialization efforts for its current products, but the company isn’t neglecting the R&D that could lead to new ones. The Research Triangle Park-based firm has raised $10 million in additional financing to expand its scope to more crops and different insects.
The new cash comes from Grosvenor Food & AgTech, which joins as a new investor to a Series C round of financing that was announced in May.
“The future of global food systems depends on the ability of growers to successfully grow and profitably sell their crops, and we’re excited to invest in Vestaron’s sustainable, people- and pollinator-friendly pesticides that can vastly reduce the $70 billion in crop losses now faced by growers each year,” Monty Bayer, managing partner of Grosvenor, said in a prepared statement.
Vestaron products are based on small chains of amino acids called peptides. The company’s research focuses on finding naturally occurring peptides that have insecticidal properties, then developing them into a formulation that can be applied to a crop. The Spear product line was the first to emerge from Vestaron’s labs. Approved in 2018, the first Spear product addresses insect and mite pests in greenhouses. The second Spear product, Spear-Lep, was approved in 2019 for controlling lepidopteran, or caterpillar, pests for outdoor and indoor crops.
The next line of Vestaron products, Basin, addresses the same insect receptor that is targeted by Spear, but at a different site. This biopesticide has been submitted for EPA review and the company expects to receive a regulatory decision in the fourth quarter of 2022. The product is already approved for use in Mexico, where it is finding use protecting crucifers, tomatoes, and peppers.
With the new funding, Vestaron said it will be able to speed up development of additional products in its pipeline, each peptide offering a novel mode of action. These new offerings will provide growers with choices of crop management tools that can be rotated to overcome pesticide resistance, the company said. Furthermore, Vestaron plans to use the new funding to expand to broad acre row crops and new pest categories.
The Grosvenor investment brings Vestaron’s Series C round of funding to $92 million total. The earlier investors in the round include Ordway Selections, Cavallo Ventures, Argonautic Ventures, Fortistar, Endeavor8, Novo Holdings, Northpond Ventures, CGC Ventures, iSelect, and Syngenta Ventures.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center