Benson Hill strikes deal to research hemp cultivation

St. Louis-based biotech startup Benson Hill Biosystems has entered a new agreement to research new ways to grow hemp, the company announced Monday.

Benson Hill will work with the California Hemp Corporation and Edward Charles Brummer, a researcher at the University of California-Davis, to cultivate a new strain of hemp that aims to maximize the concentration of CBD while minimizing THC, the compound often associated with marijuana.

“Hemp is a versatile crop that has not been fully optimized for industrial food and fiber uses,” Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp said in a news release. “The data analytics and machine learning capabilities of CropOS will tap the rich genetic diversity within this natural resource to develop improve varieties for use in nutritional and wellness products.”

This deal is the latest in a number of crop research agreements by Benson Hill. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Benson Hill announced a research partnership with Anheuser Busch Inbev in late January and another with Virginia-based food maker Mars, Inc. last October.

Benson Hill’s machine learning approach to optimizing crop growth has drawn much attention from investors in recent years. The company raised $60 million last September in a Series C funding round led by Google parent Alphabet, Inc. A year earlier, Benson Hill closed a $25 million Series B funding round that was co-led by St. Louis’s Lewis & Clark ventures.

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