VC-backed agro-technology company CropDesign has been bought by BASF, the German chemicals group. CropDesign is a Belgium-based company that specialises in discovering and developing genetic traits in seeds to enhance grain yield in corn and rice.
Founded in 1998 by Herman van Mellaert, Hans van der Saag and Prof. Dirk Inze as a spin-off from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), it received €4.5m of start up funding from Atlas Ventures, GIMV and Sofinnova. VIB and the Australian National University (ANU) donated IP in the field of plant cell cycles in return for equity.
In August 2000 Gilde Europe Food co-led a funding round of €25.7m with ING, which saw the founding shareholders return, alongside new investment from Agribusiness Fund, the Burrill Agbio Capital Fund of the US, and Technolife 2010 from France, as well as a number of Belgian institutional investors: BBL and De Vaderlandsche Insurance (both subsidiaries of the ING Group) and KBC Private Equity. In August 2004 CropDesign raised €16m through a capital increase from existing shareholders. The company will now become part of BASF’s Plant Science biotech company.