Today, only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC. Driven by the belief that whole food should be healthy, delicious, and convenient, Pairwise brings together leaders in agriculture, technology, and consumer foods to harness the transformative potential of new genomics technologies to create innovative new products.
Pairwise is working to develop new varieties of crops, and to partner with food and agriculture companies who seek to put nutritious food on tables across North America. To address challenges with inconsistent flavour, seeds, shelf life, year-round availability, and snackability, Pairwise will use CRISPR technology to bring to the produce aisle new varieties of nutritious fruits and vegetables that consumers will love to eat, and will help to minimize waste. Pairwise believes the use of technology offers a transformative opportunity to open a new horizon for the $66 billion U.S. retail produce market, and is currently developing new types of leafy greens, berries, and cherries. Its first product is expected in 2022.
Pairwise has built a unique crop trait development platform, based on gene editing technology licensed from leading research organizations, including Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Broad Institute). The company was founded by CEO Dr. Tom Adams and Chief Business Officer Dr. Haven Baker, with co-founders Dr. David Liu, of Harvard University, Dr. Feng Zhang, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. J. Keith Joung, of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Pairwise announced the closing of its $90 million Series B funding round, signalling a new frontier in healthy, sustainable food innovation. Funding for the round was led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech), a pioneering growth capital investor in food and agriculture technology, and existing investor Deerfield Management Company (Deerfield), an investment firm dedicated to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. Also joining the Series B round are new investor Temasek, an investment company headquartered in Singapore.
Temasek has a net portfolio value of S$306 billion (US$214b) as of 31 March 2020. The investment’s company’s ethos is to do well, do right and do good, with an investment philosophy anchored around four key themes: Transforming Economies; Growing Middle Income Populations; Deepening Comparative Advantages; and Emerging Champions. Actively seeking sustainable solutions to address present and future challenges, Temasek captures investment and other opportunities that help to bring about a more sustainable world.
“People see innovation all around them, except in the produce aisle. We will give consumers new options that make healthy eating easier and more exciting,” said Pairwise CEO Tom Adams in an announcement. “With this additional funding from industry-leading investors, Pairwise is taking a bold step toward achieving our mission of building a healthier world.”
“COVID-19 reinforces the importance of health and nutrition and Pairwise provides consumers with new options in their produce aisle. Our investment in Pairwise reflects our thematic focus on the convergence of biotechnology and agriculture and the use of CRISPR technology to improve health and nutrition in food and agriculture,” said Pontifax AgTech Co-Founder and Managing Partner Ben Belldegrun. “We believe that the combination of Pairwise’s gene editing platform, plant breeding expertise, and consumer food understanding creates a powerful engine that will be a game changer.”
In 2018, Pairwise announced $25 million in Series A funding, led by Deerfield and what is now Leaps by Bayer, to develop its gene editing platform and initial product portfolio. At the same time, the company also announced a $100 million collaboration with what is now Bayer Crop Science to advance gene editing tools in corn, soybeans, wheat, canola and cotton. This work continues, with advancements ahead of schedule in tools addressing broad challenges like productivity, diseases, weather needs, and other critical factors to long term, sustainable growth for these row crops.