Agriculture startup Phytelligence is getting another infusion of cash as it continues to grow.
The company raised an additional $9.85 million in its series B round, GeekWire has learned, bringing the total funding in that round to $16.8 million. The first part of the round, completed last July, was led by Spokane, Wash., based media conglomerate Cowles Company and included participation from investment firm WRF Capital. Phytelligence declined to name investors in the most recent funding.
The startup has now raised a total of $22.5 million since it spun out from Washington State University (WSU) in 2012. It has also more than doubled its headcount in the past year to 150 employees.
Phytelligence’s tree cultivation process, based on technology developed by WSU professor Dr. Amit Dhingra, helps fruit trees grow quickly to the size needed before they can be planted in orchards. Instead of traditional soil mixes, Phytelligence grows the trees in a nutritious gel substance that makes the process cheaper and faster.
The company has expanded into a variety of fruit markets, but it is also battling a legal dispute with WSU over its rights to grow and sell a lucrative new brand of apples called Cosmic Crisp. When asked about the status of that battle, a company spokesperson said Phytelligence is “continuing to work directly with WSU to identify a mutually beneficial resolution.”
Phytelligence was founded by Dhingra, who still serves as its chief science officer. Although its headquarters are in Seattle, the company also operates an 8-acre greenhouse in Burien, Wash., and a tissue culture lab in Portland. It also has a research and development lab in Pullman, Wash., the home of WSU.