Press release

RNAissance Ag Named to Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Cohort Focused on Sustainable Agriculture

Sponsored by Businesswire

The Wells
Fargo Innovation Incubator
(IN2), a technology incubator
and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by
the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL), today announced that RNAissance
has been selected as one of five companies nationally to
participate in the incubator’s first agtech cohort – the program’s fifth

RNAissance Ag, a company formed by TechAccel
and the Donald
Danforth Plant Science Center
, was selected for its innovations in
developing technologies to produce food more sustainably. RNAissance Ag
– pronounced “Renaissance” – is a biotechnology startup focused on
delivering RNA-based insecticides for crop protection.

In selecting RNAissance Ag for the inaugural agtech cohort, IN2’s
goal is to advance technologies that reduce agriculture’s carbon, energy
and water impact, which collectively account for as much as 70 percent
of water and 14 percent of energy usage worldwide. As a benefit of
participation in the program, RNAissance Ag will receive up to $250,000
in non-dilutive funding to test and advance its technologies with
experts at the Danforth Center, the world’s largest independent plant
science institute.

“This is a terrific validation of our potential with this novel
technology,” said Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D., President and Chief
Executive Officer of TechAccel. “The IN2 support will help us
advance the design for our first two insect pest targets and fuel us
along the development pathway more rapidly.”

Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions
to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings, IN2
expanded its focus in 2018 to advance innovations in agtech, or the
application of software and hardware technology to farming. In launching
this first agriculture cohort, IN2 seeks to help the
agricultural sector overcome the substantial challenges, barriers and
costs of implementing new technologies and to speed their paths to

“Wells Fargo is excited to be supporting and nurturing innovations that
will ultimately lead to more sustainable and productive agriculture,”
said Ramsay Huntley, Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy
program officer for Wells Fargo. “As one of the largest lenders to the
agriculture and agricultural technology sectors, Wells Fargo will bring
its expertise to the table in de-risking these early-stage startups and
help move them to the next level.”

Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at NREL, noted that the
companies involved with IN2 might be small companies, but
they’re not solving small problems. “RNAissance Ag was an extremely
strong applicant, and we cannot wait to see the strides they make by
being a part of our program,” she said.

The Danforth Center’s Noah
, Ph.D., director of Bioinformatics and a principal
investigator, will work with RNAissance Ag technology inventors, who are
also from the Danforth Center: Bala Venkata, Ph.D., senior research
scientist and Nigel Taylor, Ph.D., associate member, and Dorothy J. King
Distinguished Investigator at the Danforth Center.

“The Danforth Center has been a driver in the growth of agriculture
innovation for 20 years,” said Claire Kinlaw, director of Innovation
Commercialization at the Danforth Center. “We look forward to leveraging
the IN2 model and working with these early-stage companies to
accelerate their technologies to commercialization.”

As an invitation-only program, IN2 finds and selects
companies through its Channel
, a curated network of incubators, accelerators and
universities across the U.S. that refer startups to the program. Once
referred, companies participate in a highly competitive application and
selection process to determine which will be invited into the next
cohort of participants. For a complete list of IN2 portfolio
companies, visit

“These five companies are driving innovation and new breakthroughs that
will ultimately improve the way that we grow, make food, distribute and
consume food and use resources,” said Sam Fiorello, chief operating
officer at the Danforth Center. “We are proud to be a strategic partner
helping to accelerate promising technologies that tackle these critical

About RNAissance Ag:

RNAissance Ag LLC was formed in January 2019 by the Donald Danforth
Plant Science Center and TechAccel. The company holds the exclusive
license to proprietary RNAi technology developed at the Danforth Center
that has promise to be effective for insect pests that previously were
considered resistant to RNAi. Visit
for more information.

About TechAccel

TechAccel LLC was founded in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind venture and
technology development company in the agriculture, animal health and
food tech sectors. TechAccel sources, invests in and acquires
early-stage innovations. Through collaborations with universities and
research institutions, TechAccel conducts advancement and de-risking
research and development to ready technologies for commercialization.
For more information, visit
or follow

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is a $30 million
technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, IN2’s mission is to
speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology
entrepreneurs. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting
scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings,
IN2 expanded its focus in 2018 to advance technologies that
address the interconnection of food, water and energy. Companies
selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in
non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation
from experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and
ongoing connections to organizations across value chains. For more
information, visit

About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a nonprofit
research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through
plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at
the nexus of food security and the environment, and position the St.
Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is
funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National
Science Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and through
the support of individuals and corporations. For more information please