North Carolina-based biotech company, Pairwise recently secured US$90M funding in its Series B round which will boost its gene-editing creation of new fruit and vegetable varieties and break down barriers to increase consumption of fresh produce among American consumers.
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Pairwise successfully closed its round of funding that was led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech), a growth capital investor in food and agriculture technology, along with backing from existing investor Deerfield Management Company, an investment firm dedicated to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy.
Pairwise was founded by Dr. Tom Adams and Dr. Haven Baker, along with co-founders Dr. David Liu, of Harvard University, Dr. Feng Zhang, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. J. Keith Joung, of Massachusetts General Hospital.
The biotech company has developed a unique crop trait development platform that is based on CRISPR gene-editing technology licensed by research organizations such as Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Broad Institute).
CRISPR gene-editing is a genetic engineering method in molecular biology where the genomes of living organisms can be altered and it has been used in creating new agricultural products as well as medicines.
According to the company, through the application of the CRISPR technology, Pairwise will be able to produce fruits and vegetables of high quality that will have an improved taste, better yield, longer shelf life, and simplified harvesting.
The funding round also saw support from Singapore based investment firm Temasek, along with Leaps by Bayer, a firm that invests in significant advances in the life sciences sector, including agriculture and health.
People see innovation all around them, except in the produce aisle. We will give consumers new options that make healthy eating easier and more exciting. With this additional funding from industry-leading investors, Pairwise is taking a bold step toward achieving our mission of building a healthier worldDr. Tom Adams, CEO of Pairwise
Depending on their age and sex, federal guidelines recommend that adults consume at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables. However, according to a CDC study, just 1 in 10 adults meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations with previous studies pointing to high costs, seasonal availability, and limited access acting as barriers in consuming these foods.
To address consumers challenges with inconsistent flavor, lesser shelf life, and lack of all-year-round availability of fruits and vegetables, Pairwise will introduce new and fresh varieties of nutritious produce in markets.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, Dr. Tom Adams, CEO of Pairwise said that Pairwise is here to address the lack of innovation in the produce aisle. “We will give consumers new options that make healthy eating easier and more exciting. With this additional funding from industry-leading investors, Pairwise is taking a bold step toward achieving our mission of building a healthier world.”
Ben Belldegrun, Pontifax AgTech co-founder and managing partner highlighted the need and importance of Pairwise in the food tech sector. “We believe that the combination of Pairwise’s gene editing platform, plant breeding expertise, and consumer food understanding creates a powerful engine that will be a game-changer.”
Pairwise is looking forward to implementing its food innovation tech in the US$66 billion retail produce market and is presently working on creating new types of leafy greens, berries, and cherries with its first launch in 2022.
In a previous Series A funding round in March 2018 led by Deerfield, Pairwise raised US$25 million along with a US$100 million collaboration with Bayer Crop Science to advance its gene-editing technique in corn, soybeans, wheat, canola, and cotton.
Food tech innovation is having a moment around the world as companies are looking to develop products and receive funding for the same. For instance, Chinese food-tech venture capital Bits x Bites recently raised US$30 million in the first close of its US$70 million fund investing in technologies that will help remodel China’s agri-food supply chain.
In Singapore, TurtleTree Scientific, the new company dedicated to food-grade growth factors launched by Singapore cell-based milk startup TurtleTree Labs, has partnered with biotech leader Dyadic International to develop a range of recombinant proteins growth factors that can be manufactured at high-yields along with an inexpensive cost.
Lead image courtesy of Pairwise.