Become a leading innovator in crop protection chemistry discovery and development that utilizes systems design principles to maximize resource efficiency, eliminate or minimize product hazards to create durable solutions for agriculture productivity.
Sustainable by Design
Solutions for Next Generation Farmers
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 20 to 40 percent of global crop yields are lost each year due to weeds, insects, and diseases.
Insects reduce crop yield via their direct consumption of plants and through the transmission of plant diseases (primarily plant viruses). The damage created by insect feeding can also provide a route of entry for fungi that produce toxic compounds and thereby decrease the quality of the crop. In the US for example, insecticides are used to protect crops on approximately 45 million acres and it is estimated that if left untreated, yields would decrease by 40-50%.
Disease caused by plant parasitic fungi can impact crop yield before and after harvest. Outbreaks of disease caused by plant parasitic fungi have changed history (e.g., the Irish potato famine caused by Phytophtora infestans). Fungicides are a critical tool for protecting plants from fungi and it is simply not economically feasible to grow many crops without their use. In the US for example, the yields of most fruit and vegetable crops are increased by 50 to 90% through the use of fungicides.
Weeds compete with crops for space, nutrients, and sunlight and left unchecked can make it impossible to grow a crop. Consequently, over 90% of US cropland is treated with herbicides. The alternative to herbicides is cultivation which increases fuel and labor costs and increases soil erosion. In fact, no-till farming, a practice that is utilized to decrease soil erosion, is only possible with herbicide use. In spite of the widespread use of herbicides, the quantities of herbicide applied to US cropland has been decreasing since the late 1990s largely due to the use of herbicides that are effective at much lower rates than older chemistries.
Jacqueline Heard, CEO
Jacqueline is founder and CEO of Enko Chem Inc. and a Venture Partner at Anterra Capital. She has a PhD in Biology from Boston College and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her career in Agriculture has centered around the support of innovation in the sector by identifying and commercializing new technology, both as an entrepreneur at start-ups like CiBO Technologies and Mendel Biotechnology, and as a leader of global R&D and investments at Monsanto, Flagship and Two Blades Foundation. She was instrumental in starting Monsanto Growth Ventures, setting up the corporate venture arm of the world’s leading agritech firm. Jacqueline has served as an active Board member for her portfolio companies, and forged new open innovation structures for the industry by creating new companies like Nimbus Ceres Discovery and Preceres to develop novel Fungicide and RNA formulation assets using capital efficient, semi-virtual models.
TOM MEADE, CSO
Tom has over 21 years of experience working in the agriculture industry with a focus on the discovery of novel crop protection traits and chemistries. He began his career at Mycogen discovering insect resistance traits and broadened his scientific and leadership responsibilities to include insecticide discovery when Mycogen was acquired by Dow. Tom made direct contributions to many successful discovery efforts during his tenure at Mycogen and Dow AgroSciences that resulted in commercial traits (WideStrikeâ cotton, Herculexâ corn, and Conkestaä soy) and an insecticide (Isoclastâ active). Through leadership positions in both crop protection chemistry and traits he has broad experience in the discovery and development process. Tom was most recently the Global Leader for Trait Discovery at Dow AgroSciences before accepting the position of CSO for Enko Chem Inc.
Scientific Advisory Board
PAT N. CONFALONE, P.h.D.
A graduate of M.I.T., Pat obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard with Nobel laureate Prof. R.B. Woodward. After a post-doctoral stint, also with Prof. R.B. Woodward, directed toward the total synthesis of Vitamin B12, he joined the Chemical Research Department of Hoffmann-La Roche. Moving to DuPont, Pat’s career accomplishments included impacts on the development of pharmaceutical products including the fluorescent dye-labeled reagents that were used in automated DNA sequencing, Cozaar™, a major anti-hypertensive based on angiotensin II antagonism and Sustiva™, a highly successful medicine used to treat AIDS. As Vice President, Global R&D, DuPont Health, Nutrition, and Crop Protection, he led 300 scientists to build a world class pipeline of novel products, including Rynaxypyr™, with world-wide sales over a billion dollars a year. He has published >140 papers, obtained >50 U.S. Patents, and has been an associate editor of over ten peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Harvard Graduate Society Prize, the Alpha Chi Sigma Award, the Robert A. Welch Lectureship, and the Philadelphia Organic Chemistry Award. He was nominated to the Harvard Society of Fellows, is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected Chairman of the Board of the American Chemical Society. Currently, Pat is an independent consultant to the agrichemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries
STEPHEN POWLES, Ph.D.
Stephen Powles received his Master’s Degree in Crop Science from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from The Australian National University. Stephen is a Professor at the University of Western Australia and serves as the Director of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative. He is an internationally recognized authority on all aspects of herbicide resistance where he has worked for almost three decades, leading the world-class research team.
His expertise ranges from the fundamental science on the evolution and molecular basis of herbicide resistance through to applied agronomic research and management. Prof Powles has strongly influenced Australian and international thinking on sustainable herbicide usage by reducing herbicide reliance and increasing diversity in agro-ecosystems. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Science & Engineering and has published close to 200 papers in international research journals. Among is many accomplishments, his honors include the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government for his contributions to society, and the GRDC Seed of Light award for his research and communication with Australian grain growers.
WILLIAM KLESCHICK, Ph.D.
Bill received a B.S. in Chemistry from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley (with Prof. Clayton H. Heathcock). He was a post-doctoral research associate at the Georgia Institute of Technology (with Prof. Herbert O. House) and a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology (with Prof. David A. Evans) before joining Dow Chemical in the Agricultural Products Research group. At Dow he initiated and led a research effort resulting in the discovery of a family of seven active herbicide ingredients, the triazolpyrimidine sulfonamides. He has held a number of management positions in Discovery Research at Dow, DowElanco and Dow AgroSciences (DAS) including Leader of Herbicide Research and Leader of Lead Generation for fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. For the last 14 years of his Dow career he was Global Leader of Discovery Research for Crop Protection Chemicals and Seeds at DAS where his team built a robust pipeline of new product development candidates. During his last 3 years he assumed the added responsibility of Global Leader of Bioengineering and Bioprocess R&D. His career accomplishments were recognized by AGROW with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Bill retired from DAS in 2015 after more than 35 years of service and now serves as an independent consultant
Enko Chem is a venture-backed start-up in Boston MA committed to addressing the needs of a growing world population by advancing the discovery and development of new crop protection chemistries. We are establishing a core team of scientists who will collaborate internally and externally to move discoveries from the laboratory to the field. The current team would like to add a leader to direct synthetic chemistry projects targeting the discovery of small molecules for the control of agriculturally important pests.