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AgriZeroNZ invests $4.1m in US start-up

Category future-farming sustainability

Pioneering US tech to cut methane from cows gets Kiwi funding boost 

Dr Kathryn Polkoff and Dr Scott Collins, co-founders of Hoofprint Biome in Raleigh North Carolina, are developing a probiotic which aims reduce enteric methane emissions by over 80 percent while simultaneously increasing milk and meat yield by over 5 percent.

In December 2021, Rabobank NZ joined other primary sector partners in a new joint venture (JV) between the Government and agribusinesses which focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions through investment in research and development. The role of the new JV – now named AgriZeroNZ – is to help take pressure off New Zealand farmers by making sure they have equitable access to affordable and effective tools and technology to cut their methane and nitrous oxide emissions, while they concentrate on their farm efficiencies, production and profitability.

In early September 2023, AgriZeroNZ announced it had invested $4.1 million into Hoofprint Biome, in Raleigh, North Carolina, in its pre-seed funding round (total USD$3.75M) to support development of its probiotic into animal trial proof-of-concept stage.

Wayne McNee, executive director of AgriZeroNZ, says the investment allows the JV to be involved from an early stage and drive development towards a solution for New Zealand farmers.

“Hoofprint is developing novel technology with potential to be a real breakthrough to help meet our country’s climate goals. We’re really pleased to be backing Hoofprint as the lead investor, and secure this
opportunity for New Zealand farmers so they can be at the forefront of its future success.”

Hoofprint Biome, a spin-out of NC State University, was founded by Dr. Kathryn Polkoff and Dr. Scott Collins. As two biotech entrepreneurs with backgrounds in animal agriculture, they saw the unique potential for microbiome engineering to benefit ruminant agriculture and tackle the climate crisis.

The pair had discovered enzymes that naturally reduce rumen methane emissions, and delivery of these patent-pending enzymes with probiotics will result in long-lasting efficacy. Ingested as a supplement in a small dose, the Hoofprint probiotic aims to reduce enteric methane emissions by over 80 per cent while simultaneously increasing milk and meat yield by over 5 per cent.

“New Zealand farmers are the most efficient in the world but the importance of reducing agricultural emissions cannot be understated and technology like this needs to be part of the solution.,” McNee said.

“We’re looking all over the world for opportunities that will work on New Zealand farms, we’re moving fast to reflect the mandate for urgent action from our shareholders, and we’re taking calculated risks to significantly accelerate efforts made by Kiwi farmers to date.”

The investment in Hoofprint Biome is AgriZeroNZ’s fourth investment since being established in February 2023. The JV continues to welcome interest from potential new shareholders and strategic partners, to extend the reach of the JV and grow the fund. The JV expects to confirm further investments soon.

Wayne McNee - AgriZeroNZ

Wayne McNee, Executive Director of AgriZeroNZ

About AgriZeroNZ

AgriZeroNZ is a world-first investment fund established between major agribusiness companies and the government to accelerate the development, commercialisation and deployment of tools and technology to help New Zealand farmers reduce their emissions. It is one of two key components of the Government’s Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions, alongside the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Reduction Centre. Founding shareholders are ANZCO Foods, Fonterra, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms and Synlait, owning a combined 50%, with the other 50% owned by government through the Ministry for Primary Industries. Shareholder funding to the JV will rise to around $35 million a year by 2025, to be matched by Government. This will see around $165million invested.

This is the JV’s fourth investment since being established in February, with investments now totalling over $12 million:
• Ruminant Biotech, a NZ-based start-up developing a slow-release, biodegradable methane-inhibiting bolus for livestock ($1.8M)
• Supporting NZ research developing a methane vaccine and methane inhibitor for use in livestock (up to $2.5M)
• A methane measurement facility to be constructed at Massey University in Palmerston North ($4M) with co-funding from government and AgResearch.