Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Boost Biomes Launches With $2.05M Seed Funding to Develop Microbiome-Based Products


February 27, 2018 — Salinas and San Francisco, CA

Boost Biomes today announced the close of a $2.05M seed round — led by Nimble Ventures and Viking Global Investors and including other participants such as Tencent — to develop microbiome-based products. Boost Biomes’ proprietary DNA sequencing-based discovery platform was developed by the company’s cofounders, biotechnology veterans Rob McBride, Jamie Bacher and Adam Arkin, to identify commercially viable microbial products. The team’s initial focus is in agriculture.

As the global population grows to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050, we will need to produce twice as much food overall, and yet currently, the world wastes a third of the food it produces. Microbes are one of the tools that can be deployed to address both challenges meaningfully. Boost Biomes’ first two products are focused on improving yield in the field and reducing spoilage after harvest, and are being evaluated in commercially relevant trials.

“The key to leveraging microbes to impact food sustainability challenges is figuring out how to sift through enormous diversity and identify specific microbes, or groups of microbes, that will have an impact in real world conditions,” said Boost Biomes cofounder, Rob McBride. “Our goal is to demonstrate that our approach can sift diversity more efficiently, and arrive at solutions that are more effective, than traditional approaches.”

The company’s approach to improving microbiome function includes a proprietary discovery platform that uses high-throughput next-generation sequencing, selective enrichment and advanced informatics to identify microbial products with important commercial roles. This work leverages decades of research by cofounder Adam Arkin – the Dean A. Richard Newton Memorial Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Faculty Scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – on the use of DNA sequencing to better understand microbial ecology.

“Boost Biomes is on the cutting edge and developing a technological platform that will truly benefit fresh produce growers,” said Dennis Donohue, lead of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology. “Increasing yields and shelf-life are key, and we are looking forward to supporting them as they accelerate of their developments with the new funding.”

Boost Biomes is a graduate of Illumina Accelerator, and is currently a resident company at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS (JLABS @ SSF) in South San Francisco and Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, California. Before Boost Biomes, McBride was a Director at Triton Algae Innovations, and Bacher founded Pareto Biotechnologies, a synthetic biology company. Prior to these companies, McBride and Bacher worked together at Sapphire Energy, a leading biofuel start-up. Arkin is an expert in the systems and synthetic biology of microbes and microbiomes. He leads several large-scale programs for discovery and manipulation of microbes in complex contexts, including the Department of Energy Systems Biology Knowledgebase, a program for understanding microbial community assembly and activity in contaminated aquifers called ENIGMA, and the NASA Center for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space.

About Boost Biomes
Boost Biomes harnesses the power of the microbiome. Microbiomes play critical roles in areas ranging from agriculture to human and animal health. Boost has a proprietary discovery platform to identify microbial products with import­ant commercial roles. This approach is faster and less expensive than traditional approaches and uniquely identifies multi-microbial products. Their first product targets agriculturally relevant microbiomes with the development safe and effective microbial products. For more information, visit


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