AmebaGone raising $10 million Series A round

Leaves on an apple tree “scorched” by fire blight.

Madison-based startup AmebaGone Inc. is raising a $10 million Series A round from venture capital investors.

Leaves on an apple tree “scorched” by fire blight.

AmebaGone has collected a group of 3,000 proprietary antibacterial soil microorganism strains targeted to combatting a crop disease called fire blight, as well as a potato storage disease called soft rot. It was one of 15 agricultural technology startups to pitch to investors this week at the inaugural AgTech Venture Day hosted by Brookfield-based angel investment firm Golden Angels Investors in Johnson Creek.

According to AmebaGone, soft rot destroys 75 million tons of potatoes every year, and fire blight destroys $4 billion worth of non-citrus fruit and nut crops in the U.S. annually. The company has two products in development: AmebaGone FB for fire blight, and AmebaGone SR for potato soft rot.

The company, which was founded by Marcin Filutowicz in 2010 and became operational in 2014, previously was funded by $3.3 million in grants from the USDA, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. As of June, AmebaGone was seeking a $3 million seed round from investors at the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, but with the advice of investors has decided to expand its budget and the amount of funding it’s seeking.

“The company has presented in Madison to great effect and great enthusiasm with different numbers, and now we’re zeroing in on the number,” said Mark Benedyk, executive director at AmebaGone.

Benedyk said he saw lots of investor interest at AgTech Venture Day.

“I think it will be a part of the raise and it will be very smart money,” he said.

AmebaGone plans to close its Series A round by the end of the first quarter of 2019. At that point, Benedyk would join the company full-time as chief executive officer, and it would also hire another three full-time employees.

“The (grant funding) went into building the IP, building the strain collection and developing methods to screen and evaluate different strains for different applications,” he said. “Now we’re at a point where we have the strains identified,” and they need to be formulated, additional testing done, and presented to the FDA for approval.

Benedyk hopes to have the AmebaGone products to market within 18 months.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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