New Company Formed to Reduce the Use of Pesticides Globally by Managing Insect Populations in More Sustainable and Targeted Way
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Pioneering, a unique life sciences innovation enterprise, today announced the unveiling of Invaio Sciences, a technology company that unlocks the potential of the planet's interdependent natural systems to solve pressing agricultural, nutritional, and environmental challenges.
Invaio Sciences has pioneered a novel approach to managing insect populations in a more sustainable and targeted way by controlling the nutritional function organ called the obligate microbial symbiont (OMS) to alter insect health. This new approach, coupled with the deep understanding of the inner workings of insects by Invaio's diverse team of scientists, holds the potential to dramatically reduce the need for pesticide use globally—benefiting our agriculture, health and environment.
"By utilizing both human technology and nature's biology, Invaio is taking a novel approach to contemporary agricultural practices to dramatically reduce pesticide usage and substituting more sustainable, ecologically based practices," says Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. "This groundbreaking science with a variety of applications has the potential to achieve profound benefits in agriculture, human health, and environmental sustainability."
Insects—as pollinators, recyclers of nutrients, and food for other creatures—are essential for life on earth. But insects are dying at an alarming rate owing to such factors as climate change and the use of chemicals in farming. If society expects to feed the nearly 10 billion people projected to be alive in 2050, it is critically important to improve the health and performance of agriculturally vital insects.
The physiology of insects is a game-changing area of discovery. Invaio Sciences is leading the way with its technology suite focused on OMS as the gateway to modulating the health of agriculturally important insect populations. Modulating insect health can be accomplished by leveraging proprietary technologies that can deliver bioactive molecules to precise insect targets. Invaio's approach will revolutionize how society can manage insect populations and health by, for example, supplying essential nutrients and vitamins lacking in the insect's diet.
"One of the enormous consequences that comes from the over one billion pounds of insecticides used every year in the United States alone is that the volume of harmful chemicals unleashed is impacting the quality of the food supply and human health as well as the broader environment," says Ignacio Martinez, founding President and CEO of Invaio and General Partner at Flagship Pioneering. "Through a focus on natural-based solutions and precision delivery and its connection to plant and soil health, Invaio's revolutionary approach will refine agricultural practices in a far more sustainable and beneficial way."
Precision Delivery: Physical and Biological Delivery Systems
Invaio's focus on precision delivery allows the company to take a more mindful approach to insect management. For biological delivery, Invaio leverages naturally derived systems that can be used to produce, protect, and deliver a variety of active molecules—all of which are biodegradable. The approach may also include a physical delivery system built upon proprietary 3D-printed injection tips that deliver biological active molecules into a crop vascular system, where they rapidly move throughout the plant for maximum protection.
"Innovation in traditional seed care technologies has reached its limits," says Robert Berendes, Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Invaio and Executive Partner at Flagship Pioneering. "Invaio's innovation in precision delivery unlocks the uptake and translocation of delicate active ingredients. This approach ensures that actives go only where they are needed, when they are needed, and in the amount they are needed."
Digital Technologies as Part of the Integrated Solutions Based Approach
Invaio is building a digital platform that integrates multiple disciplines—machine learning, artificial intelligence, data sciences, plant sciences, and environmental sciences—to accelerate discoveries and reduce the sustainability impact of agriculture.
Lineage and Leadership Team
Invaio has built a diverse team with world-class capabilities and framed it around multidisciplinary sciences with systems thinking. Invaio's technologies leverage breakthroughs from diverse fields including human therapeutics, agriculture, environmental science, and advanced manufacturing. The team, which has vast industry experience ranging from agriculture, food systems, engineering, technology, biology, to ecology, is led by:
- Robert Berendes, Ph.D., Executive Chairman: Robert joined Flagship Pioneering in 2014 as an Advisory Partner and in 2019 became an Executive Partner. Robert focuses on innovations that address sustainability in the agriculture and nutrition sectors. He currently serves as the Chairman of Indigo Agriculture and CiBO Technologies and as a board member of Inari.
- Ignacio Martinez, Founding President and CEO: Ignacio joined Flagship Pioneering in early 2013 to lead the sustainability activities of the firm. He also focuses on entrepreneurial activities in life sciences more broadly, with a special interest in food, nutrition, and health. Ignacio is co-founder and founding CEO of CiBO Technologies and Inari Agriculture and founding Director at Indigo Agriculture.
- Gerardo Ramos, Chief Scientific Officer: Gerardo joined Invaio in 2018 after many years in senior R&D roles at Ciba Geigy, Novartis, and Syngenta. At Syngenta, he served for 10 years as the global Head of Crop Protection R&D and was instrumental in building an unrivaled crop protection chemistry pipeline, a state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure, and a world-class team.
About Invaio Sciences
Invaio Sciences is a multi-platform technology company that unlocks the potential of the planet's interdependent systems to address pressing agricultural, nutritional, and environmental challenges. Founded by Flagship Pioneering in 2018, Invaio leverages discoveries from diverse fields including human therapeutics, agriculture, environmental science, and advanced manufacturing. The company's deep understanding of the physiology of insects, together with its novel approach to managing insect populations in a more sustainable and precise way, promises to refine agricultural practices and reduce the need for pesticides globally. Invaio Sciences is dedicated to developing technology that's mindful of beneficial insects, bad for pests, and safer for us all. For more information, please visit www.invaio.com.
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category life sciences companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied a unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $34 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship is backed by more than $4.4 billion of aggregate capital commitments, of which over $1.9 billion has been deployed toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $10 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 41 transformative companies, including Axcella Health (NASDAQ: AXLA), Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelo Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Foghorn Therapeutics, Indigo Ag, Kaleido Biosciences (NASDAQ: KLDO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Sana Biotechnology, Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), and Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS).
To learn more about Flagship Pioneering, please explore our website: www.FlagshipPioneering.com.