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STLCC Interns Help Company Grow Seeds of Innovation

NewLeaf Symbiotics  recently closed on $24 million Series C financing, taking the company closer to large-scale agriculture.

According to information provided by NewLeaf,  the company will use the invested capital to commercialize seed treatment and in-furrow products for soybeans, corn, wheat, peanuts and other crops. The company is tripling the size of its research and development and pilot production facility in St. Louis, as well as expanding its proprietary Prescriptive Biologics KnowledgebaseTM bioinformatics platform.

The agricultural biotech company got its start at the Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which houses St. Louis Community College’s Center for Plant and Life Sciences.

In fall 2012, the company took up residence in the BRDG Park space, using three STLCC biotechnology student interns who worked on the research needed to get NewLeaf’s product into the ground by the following spring. They were successful and, as a result, were able to get data in the fall that allowed NewLeaf to obtain $7 million in initial funding.

“The founders of NewLeaf are originally from the east coast and could have easily taken the funding and built their company there,” said Richard Norris, director of the Center for Plant and Life Sciences. “Instead, they decided to stay in St. Louis, build out space in BRDG Park, and hire the three interns who  had done the initial research as their first full-time employees.”

Since that time, NewLeaf has exhibited steady growth, now employing more than 30 people in BRDG Park. Seven of their current employees have come from the STLCC’s Biotechnology program. Seven others have completed paid internships with NewLeaf, including one currently interning for the company.

“The partnership between NewLeaf Symbiotics and the STLCC Center for Plant and Life Sciences serves as an example of what can be accomplished when a working relationship is established between academia and industry,” said Norris.