Startup secures $40M in funding


Kalamazoo-based Vestaron develops bio-insecticides for the agriculture industry. Photo via

A West Michigan company developing an eco-friendly pesticide has received $40 million in Series B funding.

Denmark-based Novo Holdings led the investment in Kalamazoo-based Vestaron for the further development of peptide-based bio-pesticides, meant to replace potentially harmful conventional synthetic pesticides, according to Vestaron yesterday.

Novo Holdings joined “continuing investors” in the round: Anterra Capital, Cultivian Sandbox, Open Prairie Ventures and Pangaea Ventures. 

Peptides, or small proteins, have the same efficacy as conventional solutions, but they are safer for humans, birds, fish, pollinators and the environment, according to Vestaron.

“These products provide an essential tool for growers, as some existing products face increasing regulatory pressure due to environmental concerns and others decline in their efficacy due to development of resistance,” Vestaron said.

Vestaron recently launched its first two products. Spear-T is designed for greenhouse use and controls all four major greenhouse pests: thrips, whiteflies, aphids and mites. Spear-Lep is designed for field use and controls lepidopteran pests. 

Both products are based on Vestaron's Spear peptide, which has been assigned a novel nerve and muscular mode of action code by the Insect Resistance Action Committee, meaning the products target a fuller spectrum of insect vulnerabilities than other products.

"Vestaron is at the forefront of a revolutionary transition in crop protection,” said Anna Rath, CEO, Vestaron.

Anders Spohr, senior director for Novo Holdings, said this is the company’s first investment in ag tech.

“We believe that Vestaron's platform has the potential to make a positive and meaningful impact on agriculture, the environment and society,” Spohr said. “We have deep conviction about Vestaron's prospects and look forward to supporting the company and its team going forward."

Vestaron will use the funds to support commercialization of its Spear family of products, including expansion into new geographies and to accelerate development of additional peptide-based bio-pesticides.

"In our time as investors, we have seen Vestaron overcome key technical hurdles,” said Phil Austin, Anterra Capital partner. “Having now demonstrated its ability to successfully commercialize its first peptide-based bio-insectide and with the strength of its pipeline and backing of such a strong investor syndicate, we believe Vestaron is well positioned to become a major player in the crop protection industry."

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