Lewis & Clark AgriFood Leads $27m Growth Investment Round in Brightseed

  • Lewis & Clark AgriFood leads new growth investment from their Lewis & Clark AgriFood Growth Fund in Brightseed to accelerate its exploration of the health benefits in the plant kingdom.
  • Brightseed’s unique AI technology reveals active compounds – phytonutrients – that are hidden in plants.
  • The company will use the new investment for the R&D and commercialization of clinically-proven, plant-based discoveries in the food & beverage, nutraceuticals, and supplement industries.

Brightseed, a 2020 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, and developer of Forager™, the world’s first and only AI technology for phytonutrient discovery, has closed $27M in growth financing led by Lewis & Clark AgriFood. This new financing brings Brightseed’s total funding to $52M including $25M in previous funding from Seed 2 Growth Ventures, Horizons Ventures, CGC Ventures, Fifty Years, Germin8 Ventures, and AgFunder. David Russell of Lewis & Clark AgriFood will also join Brightseed’s board of directors in addition to Elaine Leavenworth, former SVP, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer at Abbott.

Brightseed has also enlisted a group of advisors, including:

  • Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo (PEP) and Board Director at Amazon (AMZN)
  • Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
  • Dariush Mozzafarian, cardiologist and Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

“We’re thrilled to work with visionary partners to accelerate innovation in food, health, and wellness,” said Dr. Jim Flatt, Brightseed co-Founder and CEO. “We’re in an unprecedented public health crisis, and people are looking for plant-based products that will contribute to a healthier life. With millions of phytonutrients hidden in plants, it’s crucial that we discover these compounds and understand how they help us. Much like mapping the human genome opened up a new era for medicine, using Forager™ AI to map the connections between plants and people is one of the most exciting new frontiers of science.”

Brightseed’s new funding comes at a moment when the demand for plant-based health and wellness solutions is skyrocketing. Forager™ is actively searching for compounds that provide proven health benefits, as well as searching for new benefits in existing plant-based products and ingredients.

“Our investment in Brightseed demonstrates our commitment to invest in and help build world-class companies that are pioneering important advancements in the food and agriculture-based sectors,” said David Taiclet, Managing Director and General Partner of Lewis & Clark AgriFood. “We’re very proud to support its mission of improving human wellness through innovative plant-based technology.”

“Brightseed’s application of technology is transforming how we understand the resources available for our health and well-being in nature,” said Dr. David Russell, Operating Partner at Lewis & Clark AgriFood. “These discoveries already have a major impact on ingredient selection and how we’re formulating the things we consume every day. This is a new approach that provides a much deeper understanding of the biological connections between plants and people. We’re looking forward to supporting Brightseed in leading these breakthroughs.”

“Brightseed’s Forager™ AI is leading the search for natural phytonutrients that will provide dramatic health benefits,” said Elaine Leavenworth. “Given today’s health crises this has even greater urgency. Brightseed has the strong support of their investors and advisors as they move forward on this path.”

This investment follows Brightseed’s debut discovery of a powerful phytonutrient with the potential to support metabolic health with profound implications for the two billion people worldwide who have or are at risk for chronic metabolic conditions including diabetes, weight management, and fatty liver disease. The Forager™ platform also currently powers Brightseed’s landmark, multi-phased partnership with Danone North America to find previously unknown health benefits of plant-based ingredients in Danone’s product portfolio.

Plants produce phytonutrients to support their growth and protect against pathogens or predators. In humans, phytonutrients support health with anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and neuroprotective activities. Examples of phytonutrients include resveratrol, which can be found in red grape skins, or lycopene, found in tomatoes. Less than one percent of the world’s phytonutrients have been identified.

Lewis & Clark AgriFood
Lewis & Clark AgriFood is a St. Louis based food and agriculture focused investment firm concentrated on investing in growth stage businesses. Their seasoned investment team brings a breadth of quality sector experience to every investment. Lewis & Clark AgriFood works with entrepreneurs through active board participation to ensure entrepreneurs reach scale.

Brightseed enables a healthier future by illuminating and activating the connections between people and plants. Despite centuries of wisdom proving the important role that plants play in human health, the vast majority of the phytonutrients in the plant kingdom remain unexplored. Brightseed’s Forager™ artificial intelligence discovers phytonutrients hidden in nature and the team validates their impact on human health and wellness. World-leading food, ingredient, and supplement companies are partnering with Brightseed to commercialize discoveries and bring the functional benefits of plants to consumers. Founded in 2017 by Jim Flatt, PhD, Sofia Elizondo, and Lee Chae, PhD, Brightseed’s investors include Lewis & Clark AgriFood, Horizons Ventures, Seed 2 Growth Ventures, CGC Ventures, Germin8 Ventures, Fifty Years, and AgFunder.