Wilbur-Ellis | July 04, 2022
Guardian Agriculture, a leading innovator and developer of the first fully autonomous crop protection aircraft system, secured a multi-million-dollar partnership with Wilbur-Ellis, a leading marketer, distributor and manufacturer of agriculture products, specialty chemicals, and animal feed. The partnership will give Wilbur-Ellis customers an opportunity to access this state-of-the-art technology before anyone else.
"This is the first new aerial technology to make a material impact on American farms. We believe it can be profitably and rapidly deployed and are looking forward to working with Guardian Ag to roll out their technology to our customers and partners," said Chief Executive Officer of Cavallo Ventures at Wilbur-Ellis, Mike Wilbur.
Guardian Ag's fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft system can safely and securely deliver precision application of crop protection in a fraction of the time and cost. The autonomous aircraft can carry multi-hundred-pound payloads and address a wide range of application spray volumes and application needs for growers. With four six-foot propellers and an overall 15-foot aircraft width, the eVTOL system efficiently covers 40 acres per hour of full-field crop protection to the grower.
Designed and manufactured in the U.S. and combining an autonomous aircraft, a ground station supercharger, and software generating domestically stored data, the eVTOL systems offer on-target application to fields when and where necessary. Using industry standard nozzles, pressure, droplet sizes, and application volumes, Guardian's eVTOL aircraft systems are one of the most safe and cost-effective methods to deliver full-field application.
"Guardian's technology delivers tremendous benefits to both growers and the environment," said Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Guardian Ag, Adam Bercu. "Growers can expect a cost-effective application that will solve critical problems with coverage quality, sustainability, repeatability, and eliminate off-target spray and overspray," he said.
With in-flight monitoring, measurement, and data collection capabilities, application variables are collected in real-time, including wind speed, temperature, obstructions, and more. Coupled with pre-planned flight plans, designated spray boundaries and spray rates, Guardian's systems will significantly reduce application errors by providing superior spray quality with reduced environmental and economic risk impacts. "Our autonomous systems deliver high-precision crop protection, enabling significant improvements in environmental safety for workers, soil health, and beneficial insect conservation," said Jeff Sparks, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Guardian Ag. Additionally, eVTOL systems are 100 percent electric and capable of reducing emissions by millions of pounds annually when compared to traditional application methods.
"As the largest commercial commitment to agriculture robotics to date, this investment and partnership signify Wilbur-Ellis' dedication to delivering meaningful, impactful innovation and technology to growers across our footprint," said John Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wilbur-Ellis. Wilbur-Ellis' application business currently covers approximately five million acres annually. The eVTOL systems will support Wilbur-Ellis' strong aerial operations business throughout its large share of the aerial application market by adding eVTOL aircraft to its current helicopter and fixed-wing fleets.
"We are excited to make an early investment in this technology, which is the only unmanned aerial application system available today, and we're even more excited to partner with Guardian to commercialize it and bring it to our customers," said John Kuhn, Director of Business Development at Wilbur-Ellis. Operating in strong collaboration, both companies have worked together over the last year to commercialize and bring American growers advanced technology that will have immediate positive impacts for their business.
Guardian's regulatory approval process is well under way, with commercialization and availability to growers occurring in 2023. "Guardian's autonomy and powertrain technologies allow us to rapidly expand our product line to meet the needs of all American farmers," said Dan Cody, Guardian's Vice President of Software.
With the Salinas Valley of California being eyed for potential first deployment of the eVTOL aircraft in 2023, Willie Negroni, Wilbur-Ellis Director of Sales, commented, "Guardian's aircraft solution complements our current aerial application business in the Salinas Valley and we see opportunity for customers, particularly around hard-to-spray areas, because eVTOL systems have the potential to provide a better application than what is currently available today."
"It's always great to see a company Cavallo Ventures has invested in grow into a commercial partnership with one of Wilbur-Ellis' divisions, such as what we're seeing today with Guardian Ag and our Agribusiness Division. Over its 100-year history, Wilbur-Ellis has always been, and continues to be, a leader of technological and innovative advances that make real differences for our customers. Our venture capital arm, Cavallo Ventures, actively seeks out new and exciting opportunities. I'm excited to add more flexibility and choices for our customers."
Mike Wilbur of Cavallo Ventures
Mark Ripato, Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness President, said: "EVTOL systems allow Wilbur-Ellis to give customers more options for precise application to acreage, helping growers make the best decisions about when and how they treat their crops. It's particularly exciting to expand our already successful aerial business with a technology that is new to the market and one that I feel will make a real difference for our growers' crop success and give them a positive return on the investment with us."
Guardian Agriculture was co-founded by Adam Bercu and Jeff Sparks out of the need to make tangible, meaningful, positive impacts on the world with electric systems. Seeking to solve actual, everyday problems growers face, Guardian Ag is accelerating sustainable farming by providing access to precision application to all American farmers, dramatically improving crop protection, the environment, and the farmer's bottom line. "We're making the future that we dreamed of as children come to life by creating technology that will benefit the real world," said Guardian Ag's COO, Jeff Sparks. Guardian Ag has delivered the first-of-its-kind unmanned aerial crop application aircraft and Wilbur-Ellis is excited to commercialize this American-made solution and make it available to growers across the country.
About Guardian Agriculture
Guardian Agriculture accelerates sustainable farming by providing all farmers with precise, eVTOL-based aerial application. Proudly manufacturing in the U.S., our mission is to define a new age of crop protection — empowering growers and their partners to refine their chemical use and grow more with less.
About the Wilbur-Ellis Companies
Founded in 1921, the Wilbur-Ellis companies are leading international marketers, distributors and manufacturers of agricultural products, animal nutrients and specialty chemicals and ingredients. By developing strong relationships, making strategic market investments and capitalizing on new opportunities, the Wilbur-Ellis companies have continued to grow the business with sales of over $3 billion.
FMC Corporation | June 30, 2022
FMC Corporation an agricultural sciences company, announced a definitive agreement to acquire BioPhero ApS, a Denmark-based pheromone research and production company. The acquisition adds biologically produced state-of-the-art pheromone insect control technology to FMC's product portfolio and R&D pipeline, underscoring FMC's role as a leader in delivering innovative and sustainable crop protection solutions.
BioPhero has pioneered a highly efficient yeast fermentation process for manufacturing pheromones at significantly lower costs and with fewer production steps compared to competitors' traditional chemical synthesis methods. Lower costs expand the pheromone addressable market from today's focus on specialty fruit and vegetables to now include the large row crop market. FMC expects pheromones and pheromone-based products to contribute approximately $1 billion in revenue at above company-average EBITDA margin by 2030.
"This acquisition demonstrates our continuing commitment to invest in biologicals and adjacent technologies, expanding our world-class portfolio while advancing sustainable agriculture," said Mark Douglas, FMC president and chief executive officer. "BioPhero is a pioneer in the production of pheromones through a unique, highly efficient bioprocessing method—a game-changer in pheromone manufacturing technology. FMC's broad market access, leadership position in the high-value insecticide market, formulation know-how and application expertise provide significant opportunities to bring sustainably advantaged pheromone technology to more agricultural markets around the world. We look forward to adding an extensive pheromone platform to our biologicals business and welcoming the BioPhero team to FMC."
"BioPhero is excited by the opportunity to accelerate our development and the road to market with the objective to make pheromones widely available. Given FMC's leadership position in the development of biological plant health products, manufacturing and formulation expertise, and existing operations in Denmark, we believe FMC is an excellent company to take this business forward. FMC's global market access and significant investments in R&D will accelerate our ability to bring highly advanced pheromone insect control technology to growers around the world."
Dr. Irina Borodina, co-founder and chief scientific officer of BioPhero
Pheromones can be used in an integrated pest management program to control the buildup of insect populations in farmers' fields by disrupting the insect mating process, reducing overall egg-laying by adults and decreasing the next generation of the target insect population. Pheromones do not have an impact on the environment, promote biodiversity and do not harm beneficial insects, such as pollinators, since they precisely target specific pests.
"FMC directs 100 percent of its R&D investments to discover and develop more sustainable products," said Dr. Kathleen Shelton, FMC executive vice president and chief technology officer. "We're excited to add BioPhero's innovative pheromone molecules to our new product pipeline, and we expect to launch five new pheromone products over the next three to five years. The opportunities for advanced biomanufacturing technology extend well beyond insect control. Working together, we can significantly expand the use of fermentation technologies across a wider set of crops targeting a variety of pests, including fungi and weeds."
Novo Holding A/S, a world-leading science investor focused on creating long-term value, has supported BioPhero for six years. "Novo Holdings believes that biotechnology is a key component in the transition towards a more sustainable society," said Søren Møller, managing partner at Novo Holdings. "The technology developed by BioPhero is an excellent example of using nature's own pheromones to combat pests in a safe and yet efficient way. Novo Holdings has invested in BioPhero since inception and has renewed its commitment to the company in each financing round. We are very satisfied to see the rapid development of the company, and this sale demonstrates that FMC shares our vision of introducing new sustainable solutions in agriculture."
The purchase price of approximately $200 million will be paid at closing. Following regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the acquisition of BioPhero is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter 2022.
Twelve | July 04, 2022
Twelve, the carbon transformation company, is announcing $130 million in Series B and additional funding to scale the engineering, manufacturing, and deployment of its industrial-scale carbon transformation technology for the creation of a wide range of products with a lower carbon footprint.
Twelve’s carbon transformation technology converts captured CO2 into products historically made from fossil fuels. According to research from Columbia’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, replacing fossil feedstocks in the production of chemicals, materials, and fuels with renewable carbon from point source or direct air capture could avoid nearly 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Twelve is currently transforming emissions into products for the automotive, household and apparel industries, as well as for government entities and global technology companies, by replacing petrochemicals and fossil-based transportation fuels with CO2Made® materials and carbon-neutral fuels like E-JetⓇ.
“Companies and governments no longer need to rely on fossil fuels for the carbon that goes into everything from apparel and cleaning products to electronics and jet fuel. This fresh funding ensures we can reach industrial scale to help new and existing partners achieve rapid emissions-reduction.”
Twelve Co-Founder and CEO Nicholas Flanders
Twelve’s partners include Mercedes-Benz, Procter & Gamble, Shopify, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administrationand the U.S. Air Force, all of which use Twelve’s breakthrough carbon transformation technology to reduce emissions and create CO2Made products.
“As more companies and organizations adopt carbon-neutrality targets, they urgently need technologies like Twelve’s to rapidly green supply chains and corporate travel to reduce emissions at scale,” said Zachary Bogue, Managing Partner, DCVC. “Since leading Twelve’s seed round in 2018, we’ve only become more confident that their technology offers businesses a critical solution for not just offsetting emissions, but eliminating them.”
The new funding follows Twelve’s first commercial products, a line of CO2Made sunglasses with sustainable fashion brand PANGAIA, and carbon-neutral sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), E-Jet. Twelve was recently recognized by Fast Company as the world’s #1 most innovative energy company of 2022 and as a BloombergNEF Pioneer in the Decarbonizing Aviation category.
“Delivering low-carbon sustainable products consumers desire will require scaling innovative solutions such as Twelve’s carbon transformation technology.” said Todd Cline, Senior Director of Sustainability, for Procter & Gamble Fabric Care. “We’re glad to see Twelve given the opportunity to expand their opportunity to impact a broad variety of sustainable consumer products enabled by their technology.”
“Twelve has the potential to disrupt petrochemical supply chains by creating a wide range of materials from carbon emissions instead of fossil fuels,” said Udo Gayer, Manager of New Business in Production Planning at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The potential impact of their technology is immense, and I’m glad to see them receive the funding to continue scaling their technology.”
DCVC led Twelve’s Series B financing, with participation from Series A lead investors Capricorn Technology Impact Fund and Carbon Direct Capital Management. Breakout Ventures, Munich Re Ventures, Elementum Ventures, and Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund also participated. In addition, Twelve secured a Series B and strategic program investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).
“Carbon transformation has the potential to turn CO2 from a harmful waste stream into useful products for the global economy,” said Jonathan Goldberg, CEO of Carbon Direct. "With the costs of carbon capture, renewables and electrolyzers continuing to fall, Twelve’s technology stands to play a crucial role in decarbonizing some of the hardest-to-abate industries.”
To help drive Twelve’s industrial scaleup, the company just announced additions of key industry veterans to its leadership team: Anne Roby, Independent Board Director and former Linde executive; David Frank, Chief Productization Officer and former Cummins director; and Ram Ramprasad, Chief Commercial Officer and former Linde executive.
Twelve is the carbon transformation company, a new kind of chemical company built for the climate era. We make essential products from air, not oil. Our groundbreaking technology eliminates emissions by transforming CO2 into critical chemicals, materials and fuels that today are made from fossil fuels. We call it carbon transformation, and it fundamentally changes how we can address climate change, reduce emissions and reverse the carbon imbalance. Reinventing what it means to be a chemical company, we’re on a mission to create a climate positive world and a fossil free future through the power of chemistry.