Kaiima secured a $20M pledge from the IFC World Bank and looks to raise an additional $30M from new and former investors
Israeli agri-tech startup Kaiima is closing in on a $50M goal for their latest financing round. Among the investors is the IFC, the investment arm of the World Bank, which has already pledged upwards of $20M. The IFC will be joining returning investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Tamir Fishman Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, along with first time investor Horizon Ventures.
Food, Fuel and Funding
Population explosions the world over and the modernization of countries like China have led to a huge increase in demand for agricultural crop yields, both for mass food production and as an alternative source of energy and fuel. Kaiima has developed a variety of non-GMO crops with dramatically improved productivity, resistance to elemental stressors (e.x. drought, salt) and with an improved land to water efficiency ratio.
Their EP technology or Enhanced Ploidy, functions to multiply plant genomes without damaging DNA. This particular method of genetic engineering is not transgenic; meaning any changes to the plant’s genetic structure will not grandfather over to future generations and this should negate fears related to the unpredictable long-term effects normally associated with genetic modification.
The results have thus far been impressive. Kaiima’s 1st generation varieties provide yields in excess of 7 tons of seed per hectare per year. Kaiima plans on breaking the 10 ton mark with their 2nd generation and 3rd generation varieties are already in development.
In addition to solving for food shortages, Kaiima is also focusing on enhancing crop yields for bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, and biomass energy. Their castor varieties are expected to yield upwards of 10 tons of seed (or 5 tons of oil) per hectare per year compared to the global average which ranges between 1-1.5 tons of seed under the same parameters.
Additional ancillary benefits of such crops may include the possible reduction of atmospheric CO2 and remediate waste water.
Kaiima was founded in 2006 by Dr. Doron Gal and has thus far raised $19.8M. With an additional $50M the company hopes to scale-up of its R&D and commercial activities globally, including in developing countries such as China, Kazakhstan and Mexico.