Agriculture technology startup Taiwan Shennong Social Enterprise Co. (TSSE) has secured US$3 million in Series A round of investment from Singapore-based Bravovia Capital.

The Taichung City (Taiwan)-based startup will use a third of the investment to create advanced agricultural and biotechnology research and development centre (AABC), in partnership with Chaoyang University of Science and Technology (CYUT).

TSSE was founded by student volunteers of CYUT incubator in 2012. The startup aims to provide biological pesticide substitutes to solve the overuse and pollution problems of modern chemical pesticides. Its main product are biological inducible pesticide substitutes, which are used to control plant diseases and pest insects for rice, vegetables, fruits, corn, sweet potato, star fruit, tea, and others crops.

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In the early stage of TSSE,  there were plenty of food safety issues in the country, which prompted TSSE to develop a toxic-free environment and build a sustainable business model with a focus on agriculture. The firm replaced artificial interference with natural approaches, and created a toxic-free food supply chain.

TSSE was technologically supported by CYUT’s Pheromones Centre and incubated by the Business Incubator of CYUT. The venture was also part of the Taiwan Accelerator’s (TA) April 2017 batch.

“With the US$3 million fund, we will try best to provide better solutions for the environment. Also TSSE will partner with CYUT and work closely with the new centre AABC to develop more advanced agriculture and biotechnologies to serve world’s need, and provide CYUT and TSSE’s shareholders with benefits and returns,” said Zafir Chiang,  Founder of TSSE.

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“It definitely has never been easy for a student entrepreneurship team to go from startup stage through to Series A fundraising and obtain US$3 million successfully,” said Prof. Cheng Tao-Ming, President of CYUT. “TSSE’s achievement has set a paradigm of integrated guidance for student startups through the collaboration of the university incubation centre, government (MOEA, MOE, Taipei Exchange, local city government) and startup accelerators (TA). It also provides an incubation model for student entrepreneurship to succeed.”

The company was angel funded by Inja Lin, Prof. Weijing Chein, Prof. Jane Liu and Prof. Cheng Tao-Ming of CYUT.