For years, conventional wisdom held that Pink Pigmented Facultative Methylotrophs (PPFMs) contaminated plants. It turns out conventional wisdom was wrong. In 1995 biologist/professor Mark Holland discovered that PPFMs actually produce a host of unexpected and important benefits for plants, and “eat” plant waste products. His “eureka” findings led to several patents and to the creation of NewLeaf Symbiotics (NLS). NewLeaf Symbiotics was formed in 2012 to develop and commercialize one of the most prevalent, beneficial bacteria found in nature. NewLeaf Symbiotics is the exclusive licensee of a number of patents on the use of this family of bacteria. NewLeaf Symbiotics has also filed its own patents, and is actively developing new technologies related to PPFMs. The Company is engaged in laboratory, greenhouse, and field product trials and expects to commercialize and license products beginning in 2014.
NewLeaf Symbiotics is located in the Danforth Plant & Science Center in the BRDG Park building located at 1005 N. Warson Road in St. Louis, MO, a Wexford Science & Technology building.
History of Success
NewLeaf Symbiotics evaluated a wide variety of locations in the US before deciding to become a tenant in the BRDG Park facility in the Danforth Plant & Science Center. Once the decision was made, NLS signed a lease agreement with Wexford Science & Technology in January of 2012. The CEO, Tom Laurita began his regular weekly commute from his home in Maine to the research center in St. Louis. The Wexford team (Mark Gorski and Sam Fiorello) worked closely with Tom and co-founder, Steve Kahn to provide connections and introductions to a wide variety of public, private and institutional investors. In addition, in September of 2012, NewLeaf was a presenting company at BRDG Park ‘s flagship annual conference, “Ag Innovation Showcase” which highlights approximately 20 emerging companies each year in the Ag and plant science industry to the investor community and key strategics. The culmination of these efforts was an oversubscribed Series A funding round, which closed in January 2013 of $7MM series A funding through a syndication of 3 high quality VC funds. During the first 15 months of their occupancy in the park, the Danforth Center worked diligently with NLS to establish relationships with Principal Investigators, Plant & Science thought leaders and Venture Capital firms. In the first Quarter of 2012, they entered into an agreement with STL Community College, also a tenant in the BRDG park building. As part of the environment that Wexford likes to create in their portfolio, the Community College was approached to establish teaching and research labs to provide faculty, students and tenants convenient access to one another.
Tom Laurita, President and CEO of NewLeaf Symbiotics, stated, “We originally considered locating in Boston, which would be more convenient for the founders. When we investigated St Louis we realized that we could get access to top-flight scientific talent at more reasonable prices, and when we got the full picture on BRDG, our decision was a no brainer. BRDG and the Danforth Center have been integral in our success and now we are kind of an unofficial booster for the community. It’s really great.”
Laurita added, “When I first spoke with Mark (Gorski) and Sam (Fiorello) they told me about the advantages of situating the company at BRDG. I have to say I was skeptical because everyone is selling something and I figured this was the same thing. But I have to say that they have delivered on everything as advertised: really supportive, collegial, and flexible. They get the idea that in order to create a hub or vortex, they need to attract good people and keep promises. Its kind of a midwest thing too-people here value honesty and a person’s word is still their bond.”
“When we investigated St. Louis we realized that we could get access to top-flight scientific talent at more reasonable prices, and we got the full picture on BRDG, our decision was a no brainer.”
Tom Laurita, PhD
President and CEO