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Gates Foundation backs Enko Chem’s eco-pesticides for Africa

ImpactAlpha, June 29 – Massachusetts-based Enko Chem uses technology for pharmaceutical drug discovery to develop new crop treatments. The company, which was incubated within agtech venture capital firm Anterra Capital, is combatting the pest resistance and environmental harm of chemical pesticides. It looks for under-developed methods of killing pests or boosting crop resilience and rapid-tests their commercial viability.

The Gates Foundation led the company’s $45 million Series B round, which will enable the company to exit stealth mode and launch field testing and regulatory trials. The Gates Foundation’s investment aims to ensure that new crop products make it to low-income, smallholder farmers worldwide.

“Typically tech access in emerging markets and for smallholder farmers is sequential, separated by about 10 years from commercial markets,” Enko’s Jacqueline Heard told ImpactAlpha. “But emerging market economies are so reliant on agriculture. There’s a win-win if we simultaneously develop products for the commercial market and for the smallholder farmer.”

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