By Nathan Rubbelke, St. Louis Business Journal | December 8, 2022
Solis Agrosciences, a St. Louis-based startup launched earlier this year to provide research and development services for agriculture technology companies, said Thursday it has raised capital from notable local investors to help pursue its growth blueprint.
With the fresh financing, Solis said it has been able to complete an acquisition of a local greenhouse business and will expand its headcount and roster of R&D services. BioGenerator Ventures, Hermann Companies and St. Louis serial entrepreneur Jim McKelvey led Solis’ financing.
Solis did not disclose the amount of the funding round. A regulatory document Solis filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed the company has raised $3.1 million as part of a $6.05 million offering.
Founded in May 2022, Solis is a business-to-business company that provides technology and research services for agtech companies and researchers. It is based at the Helix Center Biotech Incubator in Creve Coeur and offers what it describes as an end-to-end “plant pipeline as a service” that helps companies to develop and implement new crop traits.
Solis co-founder and President Mary Fernandes said Solis wants to be the Amazon Web Services, which provides companies with cloud computing services, of the plant and biotechnology sector. She said Solis has a growing customer base and works with companies of all sizes, finding success in having repeat customers.
“They start a small project and they see how well it’s gone and they have trust and confidence in us and come back to us,” Fernandes said. “We hope to keep growing our customer base.”
Since its launch, Solis has grown to include a team that Fernandes says is currently in double digits, with plans to use its growth financing to add to its team and its R&D service offerings. She said she closed on a new hire Thursday and that the company is hiring for a director of R&D.
Solis’ funding round will also increase its footprint, with the startup saying Thursday it has acquired Wildwood-based Fahr Greenhouse to strengthen its greenhouse and field testing services. As part of the acquisition, Solis plans to continue operating Fahr’s existing floriculture business while also renovating the facility to use for the R&D services it provides to customers.
Solis developed out of BioGenerator, the startup creation arm of local innovation hub BioSTL. It was founded through a collaboration of Fernandes; Martha Schlicher, an entrepreneur who previously held leadership roles at Monsanto and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals; David Smoller; co-founder at SAGE Labs, which was spun out of Sigma-Aldrich in 2013 and sold the next year; Tom Cohen, director of BioGenerator Ventures; and Charlie Bolten; senior managing director of BioGenerator.