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.”