By Nathan Rubbelke, St. Louis Business Journal | September 14, 2022
A former Bayer Crop Science executive has taken over as CEO of St. Louis agriculture technology startup Plastomics Inc.
Tania Seger, formerly head of North America finance at Bayer Crop Science, has been hired to lead Plastomics. In addition to becoming CEO, Seger is joining Plastomics’ board of directors. In the CEO post, Seger replaces Martha Schlicher, who will become Plastomics’ executive chair.
Founded in 2017, Plastomics is developing a new method of delivering traits into a plant that it says will increase yield and better stave off pests and diseases. The company is targeting its technology for use in commercial row crops, including corn and soybeans.
Seger joins Plastomics as it seeks to demonstrate proof-of-concept of its technology and commercialize it to help seed companies to bring new traits to the crops they provide growers. In November 2021, the 18-employee startup closed on a $7.1 million Series A financing aimed at growing its team and advancing its crop improvement technology.
The financing round, Schlicher said, “really set the company up with what the key deliverables needed to be for either a subsequent round or for big corporate interest in partnership or acquisition.”
As CEO, Seger said a key priority will be to advance the technology to a point where it will draw interest from corporate partners. She said she hopes that happens within the next year to 18 months. In pursuing strategic partners, Plastomics will target firms that can “help commercialize (the technology) and take it straight to the grower,” Seger said.
Seger comes to Plastomics not only with her experience from Bayer, but also with a background in farming. She and her husband operate a grain farm in St. Jacob, Illinois.
The CEO change comes about two years after Schlicher started leading Plastomics, initially serving as CEO on an interim basis, as part of her role as entrepreneur-in-residence with BioGenerator. BioGenerator, the investment arm of local innovation hub BioSTL, has helped launch and fund Plastomics. Having helped guide Plastomics through its Series A financing, Schlicher said now marks the right time for a new leader to execute on the startup’s strategy.
“This really reinforces the BioGenerator model. It is about finding ideas, advancing those ideas, finding people and making sure you have right people at the right time managing the right companies to their ultimate success. This is a really, really great next step for Plastomics,” Schlicher said.
Plastomics operates out of the 39 North innovation district in Creve Coeur. It has its laboratories and offices at the Helix Center and conducts greenhouse operations at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.