Bigger and better bamboo? Pendrell buys 68% stake in bamboo science firm Provitro

It must be agricultural science day here at GeekWire. I just wrote about Phytelligence, a WSU spinout that’s developing more robust apple and cherry trees, scoring new funding. Now, here comes another deal involving patent holding firm Pendrell Corp. and Provitro Biosciences.

Formerly known as Booshoot, Provitro is a 15-year-old Mount Vernon-based company that — like Phytelligence — is developing more advanced growing techniques for plants. In the case of Provitro, it just happens to be focusing on bamboo.

As part of today’s announcement, Pendrell is taking a 68 percent stake in the company. The size of the investment was not disclosed.

The company’s primary Provitro technology is described as “an advanced tissue culture production method”  that delivers new sustainable products for the fiber, energy, textile and forestry markets. It says that its technology offers an “innovative proprietary micropropagation method that addresses the growing demand for renewable, sustainable plant production on a mass scale without genetic modification.”

The company’s ornamental bamboo is currently sold through Costco and Home Depot under the brand “Bamboo that Behaves.” It also recently struck a deal with Kimberly-Clark, which is exploring the possibilities of manufacturing tissue products containing fiber derived from Booshoot’s bamboo propagation technology.

“Our acquisition of Booshoot reflects our approach to identify and commercialize unique, foundational intellectual property that has the potential to deliver those solutions,” said Pendrell CEO Ben Wolff, the former CEO of Clearwire. “The plant propagation technology developed by Booshoot is truly revolutionary and will address growing world demand for sustainable harvests, including fiber and food sources, that can be produced in greater quantities, in less time, at lower cost and with less impact on the environment than traditional methods.”

As a result of the deal, Provitro CEO Jackie Heinricher will remain in her leadership position, and the company will continue to be based in Mount Vernon.