Five Equity Investments & Seven Engaged Science Advancement Projects Underway with Research Universities to Address World’s Growing Food Needs
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—July 12, 2017—TechAccel, the Kansas City–based technology and venture development company, today announced significant traction toward its goal of investing in companies committed to solving the global food crisis.
With five equity investments and engaged science advancement projects in the works at many of 20 affiliated research universities in the U.S. and internationally, TechAccel is driving change that will solve a variety of agriculture and animal health issues including RNA interference for pest control, gene editing tools, cloud biology, epigenetic crop enhancements, enzyme production in plants, novel food safety approaches and animal vaccines.
“TechAccel’s team of industry experts leverages available, transformative innovation and accelerates advancement research and ultimate commercialization,” said Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO of TechAccel. “With the world population exploding and an impending food crisis, our contribution to the unprecedented wave of innovation happening around food and animal health is accelerating technology and important science advancement initiatives every day.”
Growing Industry Traction
Founded in 2014, TechAccel focuses on early-stage agtech, food tech and animal health innovations, with an annual investment and research budget of six million dollars. Completed investments to date include Agrivida Inc., Epicrop Technologies Inc., Benson Hill Biosystems Inc., and an undisclosed firm working in microbiome engineering. The next wave of investments are being cultivated from technology licenses and/or scientific research partnerships with institutions including University of California – Davis, Kansas State University, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and a growing list of universities, strategic global companies, and innovative emerging companies.
Growing the Kansas City AgTech Ecosystem
TechAccel supports efforts to enhance the recognition of the Kansas City ecosystem as a leader in animal health and agriculture. The company invests in R&D locally and regionally, and collaborates to promote the entrepreneurial and innovation development ecosystem, often leveraging TechAccel’s board of KC-based industry leaders with track records of running successful corporations driven by technology. Company and board leaders apply expertise from military, corporate, academic, financial and political arenas.
TechAccel has more than tripled in size in the past year – the firm has increased headcount from an initial staff of four to a team of 14, including five Ph.D.s in agriculture science and related fields. Key strategic hires include a Chief Science Officer who is a former Monsanto Fellow and a Chief Administrative Officer with a wealth of operations expertise. The company has also added a St. Louis office to complement its Kansas City headquarters.
In addition, TechAccel has undertaken advisor, selection and planning committee responsibilities at national conferences including AgInnovation Showcase, InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum, Animal Health Investment Forum and others. Ongoing efforts to fund and support the commercialization of ag and animal health innovations include grant programs University of California-Davis STAIR-PlusTM Grant and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center “Path to Commercialization” Fund.
Investment Partner Quotes
“We’re excited to have TechAccel in our corner, both as an investor and a research partner advancing our technology,” said Dr. Michael Fromm, CEO Of Epicrop. “Their expertise and support will help Epicrop accelerate its programs, demonstrating the enormous potential of epigenetics to increase yields and stress tolerance in a variety of crops.”
“K-State and TechAccel have proven to be powerful collaborators in identifying innovations in agriculture and advancing them toward market,” said Richard Myers, President of Kansas State University and a member of the TechAccel board of directors. “K-State has depth of ag expertise that aligns beautifully with TechAccel’s investment capital and research management. We share the common goal of advancing agriculture and animal health tech innovations.”
“The productivity and enhancement of agricultural grains, food and livestock have to continuously improve if we’re going to meet the growing demands of the population changes and climate change throughout the world,” said Terry Dunn, TechAccel Chairman. “We believe this represents between 10 and 20 percent of the gross world product that is there tosupport the population of the world. We see it as a strong market and we see it as a growing market.”