University of Oxford's Moa Technology has received series A support to progress its vision of marketing potent herbicides discovered via its high-throughput, in-vivo screening platform.

Moa Technology, a University of Oxford spinout specialising in crop protection products, made its public debut yesterday with £6.3m ($7.6m) in series A funding co-led by the university’s venture fund, Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI).

OSI was joined by fund management unit Parkwalk Advisors, which co-led the round. Other participants have not been disclosed.

Spun out in 2018 from the Department of Plant Sciences, Moa Technology is working on natural and synthetic herbicides in a bid to overcome the resistance of some weeds to existing herbicide products.

The herbicides will be designed using Moa’s three chemical discovery platforms – Moa Galaxy, Moa Target and Moa Select – which apply genetics, trait analysis and data analysis to screen candidates at high-throughput within in-vivo settings.

Moa Technology was co-founded by Liam Dolan, a professor of botany in the Oxford plant sciences department, and Clement Champion, a research fellow in the same institution who acts as the spinout’s chief scientific officer.

Dolan said: “In recent years industry has moved from high throughput screening to lower throughput in-vivo plant screening but neither method has been successful in uncovering marketable herbicides that have new modes of action.

“We have redesigned the discovery process in its entirety. Not only do we focus on identifying new potential modes of action at the outset, our platform combines in-vivo screening with a high throughput capability that we believe is a first in this industry. Early results are extremely promising.”