Leaps by Bayer Leads USD 45 Million Financing in Sound Agriculture to Accelerate Sustainability Solutions for Food and Agriculture
Sound’s Dual-Technology Platform Uses Biochemistry to Tap into the Natural Capabilities of the Plant to Increase the Speed and Efficiency of Agriculture
Leverkusen, Germany and Emeryville, CA, August 19, 2021 — Sound Agriculture, a company that is tackling sustainability through groundbreaking advancements in both food and agriculture, announced today that it has secured a USD 45 million investment led by Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment arm of Bayer. Northpond Ventures, a leading science and technology-driven venture capital firm also participated in the round, along with existing investors Cavallo Ventures, Fall Line Capital, S2G Ventures, and Syngenta Group Ventures.
Sound is advancing two novel technology platforms that leverage plant and soil biology to radically improve food production. The first is Sound’s on-demand breeding platform that offers a paradigm shift in breeding by accelerating plant trait development ten times faster than current technologies without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The second is a nutrient efficiency platform poised to replace 30% of global nitrogen fertilizer use — the equivalent of removing 200 million cars from the road, with patented technology that allows crops to access more nutrients from the existing microbiome.
The financing will be used to scale both platforms in order to address critical issues in the food and agriculture industry, which is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to declining water quality and soil health. With the potential for global supply shocks due to climate change and rapidly changing consumer preferences, the need for a more adaptable and resilient food system has never been more evident.
“We are focused on progressing breakthrough solutions that are grounded in biotech science to provide long-term answers to today’s food production challenges,” said Jürgen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “Sound Agriculture is a true pioneer in the industry, bringing not one, but two never-before-seen platform technologies to market that have tremendous potential to innovate and advance sustainability in our food system.”
On-Demand Breeding is the first breeding technology that uses epigenetics to enable natural plant differentiation more rapidly and economically than any other option. By targeting improvements in taste, nutrition, sustainability, and appearance, on-demand breeding enables a more agile food system. Using this approach in agriculture allows for more biodiversity with a reduced need for chemical inputs, a greater and more reliable supply of nutritious and affordable food, and access to bespoke products for consumers to encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables. Whereas today it typically takes 7 to 10 years to bring new crops to market, Sound’s technology can cut that timeline in half.
The company’s first product, SOURCE™, which sold out in 2020 and 2021, is a bio-inspired alternative to synthetic fertilizer for corn and soybeans, with more crops currently being trialed. By activating the existing soil microbiome, SOURCE gives plants access to more nitrogen and phosphorus, increasing corn yields an average of 7.5 bushels per acre and giving growers a reliable option to reduce nitrogen fertilizer application by up to 50 lbs per acre. While there are an increasing number of microbial solutions being introduced, SOURCE is the only solution that stimulates the microbes already in the soil. The data collected from trials and usage is providing insights that allow for precision application based on soil type through a tool called the Performance Optimizer, providing a sustainable environmental solution as well as a stronger return on investment for growers.
“Northpond is committed to advancing environmental sciences and sustainability,” said Andrew Lee, Ph.D., Senior Associate at Northpond Ventures. “Sound Agriculture’s on-demand breeding and unique dual-technology platform represent an extensible approach to build a more sustainable, healthier food system.”
“The backing of Leaps by Bayer and Northpond Ventures, in addition to our current list of investors, further validates the hard work and creative approach of our team to rethink the way we grow food and align it with the outcomes that our planet needs,” said Adam Litle, CEO of Sound Agriculture. “Given the speed of climate change, it’s critical to find reliable solutions like ours that have the ability to scale quickly.”
About Bayer and Leaps by Bayer
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and planet thrive by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to drive sustainable development and generate a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2020, the Group employed around 100,000 people and had sales of 41.4 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 4.9 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
Leaps by Bayer, a unit of Bayer AG, leads impact investments into solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges in health and agriculture. The investment portfolio includes more than 35 companies. They are all working on potentially breakthrough technologies to overcome some specific challenges such as providing sustainable organ & tissue replacement, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture, preventing or curing cancer, and others. For more information, go to leaps.bayer.com.
About Sound Agriculture
Sound Agriculture unlocks the natural power of plants to meet the demands for more diverse and nutritious food. Innovative, on-demand crop solutions allow agriculture to adapt faster to climate change and evolving consumer preferences, creating healthier food that is better for the planet. Products are designed to improve on-farm efficiency and create healthier, tastier, more sustainable food. SOURCE activates the microbiome to give crops access to more of the nitrogen and phosphorus that exists in the field, improving yield and reducing synthetic fertilizer by up to 50 lbs per acre. Learn more at www.sound.ag and follow @sound_ag on Twitter.