Seed World

Pairwise Announces Closing of $90M Series B Funding Round

Pairwise announced the closing of its $90 million Series B funding round, signaling a new frontier in healthy, sustainable food innovation. Funding for the round was led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech), a pioneering growth capital investor in food and agriculture technology, and existing investor Deerfield Management Company (Deerfield), an investment firm dedicated to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. Also joining the Series B round are new investor Temasek, an investment company headquartered in Singapore, and existing investor Leaps by Bayer, which invests in paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences sector, including agriculture and health.

Through the company’s unique use of CRISPR technology, Pairwise will help build a healthier world by introducing better fruits and vegetables with improved taste, enhanced convenience, increased shelf life, improved yield, simplified harvesting, or lengthened season availability.

As a leading mission-driven food tech company, Pairwise is using its cutting-edge technology to break down barriers to increase consumption of fresh produce. Today, only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC. To address challenges with inconsistent flavor, seeds, shelf life, year-round availability, and snackability, Pairwise will bring to the produce aisle new varieties of nutritious fruits and vegetables that consumers will love to eat, and will help to minimize waste. Pairwise believes the use of technology offers a transformative opportunity to open a new horizon for the $66 billion U.S. retail produce market, and is currently developing new types of leafy greens, berries, and cherries. Its first product is expected in 2022.

“People see innovation all around them, except in the produce aisle. We will give consumers new options that make healthy eating easier and more exciting,” said Pairwise CEO Tom Adams. “With this additional funding from industry-leading investors, Pairwise is taking a bold step toward achieving our mission of building a healthier world.”

“Pontifax AgTech is pleased to co-lead this funding round for Pairwise, one of the leading companies using technology in food and agriculture today,” said Pontifax AgTech Co-Founder and Managing Partner Ben Belldegrun. “COVID-19 reinforces the importance of health and nutrition and Pairwise provides consumers with new options in their produce aisle.  Our investment in Pairwise reflects our thematic focus on the convergence of biotechnology and agriculture and the use of CRISPR technology to improve health and nutrition in food and agriculture. We believe that the combination of Pairwise’s gene editing platform, plant breeding expertise, and consumer food understanding creates a powerful engine that will be a game changer.”

“Deerfield is pleased to co-lead and to expand our investment in Pairwise,” said Cam Wheeler, Deerfield Partner. “Deerfield focuses on curing disease and advancing healthcare. We believe a healthy diet is an important part of the equation and Pairwise’s products will do this by making healthy options more attainable and available.”

Pairwise has built a unique crop trait development platform, based on gene editing technology licensed from leading research organizations, including Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Broad Institute). The company was founded by CEO Dr. Tom Adams and Chief Business Officer Dr. Haven Baker, with co-founders Dr. David Liu, of Harvard University, Dr. Feng Zhang, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. J. Keith Joung, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Pairwise announced $25 million in Series A funding in March 2018, led by Deerfield and what is now Leaps by Bayer, to develop its gene editing platform and initial product portfolio. At the same time, the company also announced a $100 million collaboration with what is now Bayer Crop Science to advance gene editing tools in corn, soybeans, wheat, canola and cotton. This work continues, with advancements ahead of schedule in tools addressing broad challenges like productivity, diseases, weather needs, and other critical factors to long term, sustainable growth for these row crops.

In less than three years, the company has grown to 100 team members across two locations in Durham, North Carolina, with additional growth anticipated in 2021.