Seed World

ZeaKal Prepares for Global Growth as Ag Industry Luminary Joins Company

Hand arranging wood block stacking as step stair with arrow up. Ladder career path concept for business growth success process

ZeaKal, a plant traits innovator focused on improving crop efficiency, is aggressively expanding to meet the global demand for more sustainable agriculture. Building on recent collaborations with Canopy Rivers Inc. and Corteva Agriscience, the company announced the close of its Series C financing round and the addition of Paul Schickler, former president of DuPont Pioneer, to its leadership team.

Totaling $15 million, the oversubscribed Series C includes the strategic investment from Canopy Rivers announced earlier this year. Existing investors including Finistere Ventures and Middleland Capital participated in the round, and Finistere tapped its extensive industry network to find the ideal fit for ZeaKal’s strategic needs.

Agriculture is innovating to meet the changing food and nutritional demands for the next 30 years. Taking full advantage of the miracle of photosynthesis can help meet this demand in a sustainable fashion, and I am excited to join the ZeaKal team at such a pivotal time for the industry and the company,” says Schickler. “I have focused my full attention on areas that address productivity, value and sustainability. ZeaKal’s ability to improve crop yield and composition with its PhotoSeed™ technology fits perfectly with that focus.”

Before joining ZeaKal, Schickler served in various leadership roles during a four-decade tenure at DuPont Pioneer (now Corteva Agriscience). Dedicated to advancing agriculture production and lauded for his focus on innovation, farm profitability and sustainability, Schickler built a strong leadership team and cultivated a deep network of customer and partnership relationships that fueled Pioneer’s substantial growth. Schickler will take an active role in driving strategy and partnership opportunities for ZeaKal.

“Having one of the most influential and accomplished executives in agriculture join ZeaKal’s leadership team is a significant milestone for the company. Paul will be a transformative force in expanding our global footprint, building new partnerships and crystalizing our growth strategy as a leading seeds and traits innovator,” notes ZeaKal Founder and CEO Han Chen. “We are extremely grateful that Finistere Ventures, our long-term investor and supporter was able to bring us together.”

ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed technology increases a plant’s photosynthetic capacity so it can harvest more sunlight, sequester more carbon dioxide, produce higher yields and ultimately deliver better nutrition. With multi-year field trials across a range of crops already demonstrating its success, ZeaKal plans to use the funding to rapidly expand its commercial focus so producers, farmers and consumers alike can benefit from a more sustainable ag ecosystem.

“We’ve spent a lot of time examining bottlenecks to plant growth, and ZeaKal’s technology relieves a major one: carbon assimilation inefficiency,” adds Spencer Maughan, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures. “Partnering with ZeaKal since its inception as its lead investor and working closely with Paul Schickler over the years, we look forward to helping navigate the next phase of ZeaKal’s growth as it uses the latest funding to roll out its technology across multiple crops.”