The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), today announced that it has selected Pluton Biosciences to join the program as a member of IN2’s seventh cohort.
The selected companies share a focus on developing technologies that support the agricultural sector while reducing environmental impact.
Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, Pluton Biosciences discovers new beneficial microbes in the soil for use in sustainable, natural products. Pluton used its high-throughput microbial discovery platform called Micromining to discover ten new strains of bacteria with insecticidal properties. Some of these strains are especially effective against mosquitoes that carry such deadly infectious diseases as Malaria, Zika, Dengue, West Nile, and Yellow Fever.
“The resources available to us through the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator include the use of High-Performance Liquid Chromatography. This technology will allow our scientists to better understand the effective chemistry behind our novel insecticidal discovery,” said Pluton CEO Charlie Walch.
Pluton CSO Dr. Barry Goldman added, “Pluton is excited about the opportunity to work with the Danforth Center as part of IN2 to advance our technology. It’s a great validation of our team’s work. We believe this unique accelerator program will help to bring our eco-friendly, natural products to market sooner.”
Agtech investing has shown great promise even with current economic uncertainties. A recent market analysis predicts investment dollars to reach $6.9 billion this year, doubling since $3.4 billion in 2017. The IN2 program expanded its focus to agtech in 2018 to address the growing impact of the agricultural sector on carbon emissions.
“On average, agriculture accounts for nearly 13% of global carbon emissions,” said Ramsay Huntley, Sustainable Finance Strategist at Wells Fargo. “IN2 is uniquely positioned to reduce the environmental impact of food production by validating promising, early-stage, clean agricultural technologies and accelerating their respective paths to commercialization.”
Pluton Biosciences will conduct research and development activities at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, a program partner and the world’s largest independent plant science institute. The company will receive up to $250,000 in technical assistance with the opportunity for follow-on funding, and access to state-of-the-art expertise and resources from the Danforth Center, Wells Fargo, NREL and other IN2 partners.
“The companies selected for Cohort 7 provide a window into the next chapter of agriculture. Their technologies are hyper-focused on optimizing efficiencies and scaling sustainable agricultural practices in order to feed a growing population,” said Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at NREL. “Our partners at Danforth are at the intersection of science, innovation and commercialization, and we’re pleased to connect their deep domain expertise and robust research capabilities with startup innovations.”
Pluton was first nominated by an IN2 Channel Partner –– part of a nationwide network of more than 60 cleantech and agtech business incubators, accelerators, universities and industry experts — before undergoing in-depth review by Wells Fargo, the Danforth Center and IN2’s expert industry advisory board.
For more information, visit in2ecosystem.com.