In 2017, Impetus Agriculture was formed to take on a new idea to control crop damaging insects. KWS, a 160+ year old seed company based in Germany and 39 North, had a new way to control these insects but it wasn’t their strategy to advance the technology itself. Familiar with the agtech startup nature of St. Louis and 39 North, KWS collaborated with BioGenerator and The Yield Lab to bring Impetus Ag to life.

According to the company, insects continue to develop resistance to current technologies. “We are currently focused on enhancing current biological Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) protein insect control products to achieve chemical like control. These products are sold today both as topical products in fruit and vegetable markets and as transgenic traits,” said CEO Martha Schlicher. 

Impetus says their breakthrough technology delivers durable, safe and sustainable insect control that benefits growers and consumers while avoiding negative effects on the environment and non-target insects. 

In 2021 Impetus Ag raised $1 million in equity financing from BioGenerator and The Yield Lab to continue the development of their technology. To date, the startup has raised almost $2 million from other investors including the St. Louis Arch Angels, Centennial Investors, Missouri Technology Corporation and the University of Missouri Allen Angel Capital Education Fund.

Most recently, the company is focused on growing. Schlicher said the company is working on a co-development collaboration with an unnamed multi-national agricultural company for commercialization of its first product and establishing labs of their own. 

“We are currently moving from “virtual work” at the University of Tennessee to establishing our own laboratories at 39 North’s Helix Center and we’re hiring! Molecular biology/biochemistry/entomology skills are needed!”

Schlicher says being in 39 North at the Helix Center has proven to help startups succeed. 

“Helix provides the ability for an agricultural startup to access laboratories, shared equipment and the expertise of other agricultural leaders to advance their startup needs.  It is a collaborative and can-do community where we are all committed to helping one another succeed.”

To learn more about Impetus Ag or inquire about open positions, visit their website here