A St. Louis-based ag tech startup led by a WashU Olin alum has closed another round of financing as it moves toward the commercial launch of a new cash crop in 2021.
Jerry Steiner, EMBA ’92, is CEO of CoverCress, a post he’s held since January 2015, two years after the company was founded as Arvegenix. Steiner has 15 years’ experience previously with Monsanto.
CoverCress closed its latest $2 million round of funding November 14. Two prominent organizations co-led the funding round, Bayer Growth Ventures, the venture capital arm of Bayer and formerly Monsanto Growth Ventures; and BioGenerator, the investment arm of local nonprofit BioSTL. The round brings the company’s total funding to nearly $8 million, according to the St. Louis Business Journal (subscription required).
The company at the same time rebranded to CoverCress, reflecting its focus on developing a cash crop based on the native plant pennycress. According to the firm’s news release, “CoverCress is a new winter oilseed cash crop designed to provide winter and early spring soil cover between corn harvest and soybean planting, while producing an oilseed crop. CoverCress oil and protein meal are similar to that of canola.”
“Many farmers have told us that they want to do more to protect soil and water as well as find new sources of income from their land,” Steiner said in the release. “We are responding with CoverCress, a unique product to deliver both benefits to farmers.”