Finistere Ventures Adds Proven Ag Entrepreneur as New Venture Partner
AgTech venture pioneer Finistere Ventures announced the addition of seasoned entrepreneur Dr. David Duncan to its team.
With an extensive track record growing successful Ag companies and strong network in St. Louis, Duncan will focus on vetting AgTech innovators and establishing critical partnerships in the Midwest corridor to support the firm’s continued expansion.
Finistere is one of the VC firms that participated in the $200 million raised in a Series B round of funding this week for indoor vertical farming company Plenty. It is the largest agtech investment to date.
Dr. Duncan is passionate about sharing insights from his distinguished four-decade career in agricultural productivity, plant biotechnology and, most recently, plant health and nutrition to help inform the next wave of Ag innovation. As part of the Finistere team, he will focus on mentoring the leaders of current Finistere portfolio companies to help accelerate their market growth.
“Having worked alongside Dr. Duncan in the past, I know he will offer our portfolio companies’ leadership teams unmatched expertise and industry knowledge to help them commercialize their ideas and lead their respective markets,” said Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures. “In addition, we’ve seen incredible potential in the Midwest as we’ve monitored Ag disruptors around the globe and wanted to make sure we have a local Ag authority to help advance innovation in the area.”
Prior to joining Finistere, Dr. Duncan founded an entrepreneurial venture with the support of the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise in St. Louis, a business incubator for biotech startups. As entrepreneur-in-residence at the Nidus Center, he founded Colliant Global Ag to provide advisory support and help advance Ag biotech discoveries from early development through commercial launch.
In addition, Dr. Duncan has a long history of Ag startup leadership. Within one year, he led the development of a revolutionary technology platform and strategic partnerships for FBSciences that drove a global testing collaboration with DuPont. He also served as CEO of Pasteuria Bioscience (now part of Syngenta), which focused on novel biological nematode control in broad-acre and specialty crops, and Chlorogen Inc., a plant-made pharma company that ultimately licensed its chloroplast transformation technology to Dow Agrosciences.
During his two-decade tenure at Monsanto early in his career, he held various research, development, regulatory and sales management positions before becoming the general manager of Monsanto’s turf and ornamental business. He also led the formation of Arborgen, a forestry joint venture to develop input and output traits for the pulp, paper and timber industries.
“As part of the Finistere team, I know I’ll be able to continue to help shape the next crop of Ag innovators,” said Dr. Duncan. “While Finistere has a global reach in the AgTech community, my focus will be on cultivating the innovation happening across the Midwest to ensure that our local Ag entrepreneurs have the opportunity to drive international change.”
Dr. Duncan currently serves on the board of several companies, including FBSciences and Willowood USA. He earned his Ph.D. in pesticide physiology and his M.S. in agronomy/ turf grass management from Michigan State University and his B.S. in biology at Indiana State University.
Finistere continues its mission to help commercialize the innovations primed to reshape the Ag and food industries, working closely with industry leaders such as Agrium, Bayer, DuPont, the International Farming Corporation and PepsiCo. Current Finistere portfolio companies CropX, Plenty, Taranis and ZeaKal, and the firm recently co-founded Radicle to focus on growing early stage AgTech startups.