Young Ag Biotech Rootstock Company Lands $7 Million

Phytelligence, an agricultural biotechnology company that has developed advanced micropropagation techniques to rapidly ramp up production of rootstocks to make them available to nurseries and growers directly, announced it has secured the first $6.95 million dollars of a total potential $16 million dollar second funding round, known in venture capital as Series B.


Phytelligence, formed in 2012, is a spin-off company from Washington State University (WSU), first located in a WSU research park in Pullman, WA, home to WSU. World headquarters are now located in Seattle, WA. Formed by Dr. Amit Dhingra and some of his former students, the company is rapidly moving forward to supply rootstocks for 2017 and beyond.

The initial $6.95 million will provide funding for expanded plant production that utilizes the proprietary Phytelligence MultiPHY technology, while also funding research for developing, owning, and commercializing new rootstock and varieties of apples, cherries, pears, and grapes to further meet the needs of growers and consumers.

The company has experienced exponential growth since the new management team came together in late 2015, increasing employee count from 12 to 70 full-time employees, as well as securing greenhouse space in Burien, WA, and establishing a fully-functioning tissue culture lab based in Portland, OR.

The company also maintains its own research and development lab in Pullman, WA, where it discovers grower-focused technologies while also having the right of first refusal for technologies developed in the Dhingra Lab at WSU.

“The growth and milestone achievements of Phytelligence over the past few years have been exciting,” says Phytelligence CEO, Ken Hunt. “This influx of funding gives us the capital needed to continue our rapid expansion to meet the needs of growers domestically and internationally. The success of our company validates the demand for our proprietary technology and the need for a change in the current nursery system. We’re looking forward to expanding our footprint and providing growers with the highest quality, true-to-type plant material and compound solutions for agronomic and consumer benefit.”

“The decision to invest in Phytelligence was an easy one to make once we saw the tremendous gap between the current nursery capabilities and the needs of the modern grower,” says Steve Rector, CFO of Cowles Company, a primary investor. “The current system of providing plants to growers is antiquated and simply can’t keep up with the changing customer preferences the growers are trying to satisfy. Phytelligence has the technology, the capacity and the expertise needed to completely revolutionize the food crop industry. We look forward to being a part of that mission.”

The initial funding close of $6.95 million signals the availability of an additional $9 million in funding to be secured by August 4. The total round maximum of $16 million would signify the largest round for the company, which raised a smaller first round Series A in 2015.