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July 27, 2021

Mystic agrotech company Enko partners with pharma giant Bayer

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Enko Chem researchers work out of the company’s new Mystic headquarters, at 62 Maritime Drive.

Mystic-based agrotech company Enko said it has entered into a partnership with pharmaceutical industry giant Bayer to develop diverse chemistries for crop protection that could fight superweeds worldwide.

Enko is a research and development startup in search of environmentally-friendly pest controls. Its researchers use machine learning technology to parse through gigantic datasets of known chemical reactions, to try to find compounds that are toxic to pests, but harmless to plant life and other organisms. The company takes the innovative approach of applying technologies used for drug discovery to the agricultural industry.

CEO Jacqueline Heard said the partnership with Bayer calls for Enko to research molecules that could be used in a product to protect crops against superweeds, and for Bayer to work on the commercialization of any discoveries.

"I believe that it's a testament to the fact that what enko is bringing to the table is significant, and very interesting from a technology perspective," Heard said of the deal. "[Bayer] brings a lot to the table in terms of their experience in commercialization."

Heard declined to disclose financial details of the partnership.

Enko's partnership with Bayer comes as the agrochemical startup has already raised $70 million to date and boasts a high-profile partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The World Economic Forum recently named the company one of its 2021 “Technology Pioneers,” which recognizes early- to growth-stage companies from around the world that are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

The company also recently announced a multiyear partnership with Syngenta Crop Protection, a global agricultural science and technology company. Syngenta will employ Enko to design environmentally-friendly chemicals that eliminate pests and novel plant diseases.

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