Benson Hill closes $150m Series D funding round, readies for 2021 launch of ultra-high protein soybean

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Jevtic
©GettyImages / Jevtic

Related tags: Soy protein, Benson Hill

Benson Hill has closed a $150m Series D funding round led by Wheatshef Group and GV (formerly Google Ventures) to expand and commercialize its proprietary CropOS platform, the technology responsible for breeding highly-productive and more nutrient-dense crops such as the company’s ultra-high protein soybeans, which will be planted next year.

CropOS uses proprietary plant phenotyping, predictive breeding, and environmental modeling algorithms to grow its proprietary breed of crops with a focus on soybeans.

New and returning investors in the funding round include Argonautic Ventures, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Emart, GS Group, Louis Dreyfus Company, iSelect Fund, Fall Line Capital, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, S2G Ventures, and additional strategic and family office investors.

The expansion of Benson Hill’s plant protein production is part of the company’s larger mission to provide a more efficient and sustainable way to feed a growing global population, which is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025 (according to the United States Census Bureau) .

“As a firm, we are focused on investing in innovation that delivers the right calories and nourishment for a growing global population in a less commodity-driven food system,”​ commented Stephan Dolezalek, executive director at Wheatsheaf Group.

“We feel the culture and partners propelling Benson Hill forward will have a significant impact on the health and sustainability challenges that burden our current food system in a way that benefits society and our environment.”

2021 commercialization of ultra-high protein soybeans

The food tech company is using its proprietary CropOS technology​ – which leverages AI and machine learning techniques via its Cloud Biology platform – to breed ultra-high protein (UHP) soybeans, which according to the company, deliver better digestibility, omega fatty acids, and higher protein content to the end consumer.

“CropOS is the platform that makes this discipline actionable, significantly accelerating the precision and speed of product development,”​ stated Benson Hill.

Previously speaking​ to FoodNavigator-USA, Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp explained that the company’s Non GMO UHP soybeans contain 50% more protein at the crop level than current varieties of soybean grown and undergo less processing steps (one crushing step vs. two with soy protein concentrate) creating a more sustainable (as less energy and water is used in the process) and more nutritious soybean variety for use in food and beverage products.

Benson Hill has done preliminary product testing in alternative meat and dairy segments, and is therefore targeting these burgeoning categories as well as premium animal feed markets, Crisp noted.

With the new round of funding, Benson Hill said it will expand its partner development efforts, continue to expand its team, and propel the commercial launch of its UHP soybean varieties in 2021, among other product launches.

Earlier this year, Benson Hill announced that it had contracted 30,000 acres of land in the US to grow its non-GMO UHP soybeans in the 2021 crop year, and will expand its acreage ten fold by 2022.

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