Microbial additives firm nets $46M for US expansion

Microbial additives firm nets $46M for US expansion

Yastremska | BigStock.com

Funding round will help bring microbial feed additives to US markets, CEO says

After raising another $46 million from global investors, Ascus Biosciences, a California-based manufacturer of microbial feed additives, has its eye on its home turf with a planned expansion into the U.S.

The five-year-old company already has two products, one for poultry and another for dairy cows, on the market in Latin American countries including Mexico, Argentina and Chile. But with nearly a dozen new products in the works, Ascus Biosciences CEO Mike Seely has big plans for the fruits of the company’s recent Series B fundraising efforts.

The company has two new products in development for poultry and dairy cows, as well as new offerings for cattle feedlots, horses and dogs. They’re also in the early stages of looking at potential additives for swine and salmon, Seely said.

But research and development, according to Seely, is already the company’s strong suit, and the company has no plans to build a flagship manufacturing facility, citing the widespread availability of contract manufacturers like those that produce Ascus products. So the majority of the newly raised funds will be dedicated to expanding the company’s sales and marketing capacity.

“We’re going to hire a lot of people on the commercial and sales side,” Seely said. “People who understand our end customers, understand their needs, and understand supply chains, to drive more awareness about our products and our science. We know we can make this stuff. We know we can manufacture the products cost-effectively with high margins, so it’s about establishing that customer relationship. That’s the most important ingredient in our success.”

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a recent shift in Ascus’ approach to sales, which historically involved more in-person, on-farm interaction with customers. The company has relied more heavily on webinars in recent months, and Seely anticipates it will adopt a mixed approach in the future.

While growing the company’s Latin American footprint remains a goal, the primary objective of the Series B is expanding Ascus’ offerings into U.S. markets — beginning with pursuing GRAS status from the FDA. Ascus has already filed an application for its dairy product, and plans to pursue GRAS for other products in the near future.

“We started this company wanting to see our products do good things for all people who care about animals,” Seely said. “Nothing would bring us more joy than to drive on a farm and see our microbes being used, no matter where we are in the world.”