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Mission

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Breaking through
the impossible.

Leaps by Bayer invests in paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – breakthroughs that could change the world for the better.

Leaps is the impact investment unit of Bayer, created in 2015 to break through the impossible in life sciences.

We have invested over $1 billion of minority equity in ventures that tackle fundamental breakthroughs in health and agriculture. Our >35 portfolio companies are developing technologies and business models that can be both profitable and sustainable.

We invest in technologies that have the potential to significantly disrupt industry paradigms—including Bayer’s own business. However, with 150 years of expertise, we see it as our responsibility to take unprecedented risks by fueling massive, ambitious ideas. We join forces to drive the bio revolution forward with a strong vision and ethical foundation.

Discover our campaign: DARE TO LEAP

10 Leaps.
10 Huge Challenges.

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Some call them impossible.
We call them 'leaps'.

Our impact investment approach aims to conquer ten huge challenges facing humanity. Much of what we are aiming to achieve is not yet possible. Each leap starts with a very low probability of success, but each one could fundamentally change the world for the better.

Our leaps reflect Bayer’s ambition to tackle the biggest challenges based on where our leadership and competencies can most make a difference. Each leap represents a vision.

Explore our leaps.

01 / Cure
genetic diseases

Category: health

Stopping genetic diseases before they progress could prevent chronic suffering and give each of us the chance to live a full and healthy life.

There are over 10,000 monogenic human diseases. [1] One percent of the population is affected by a single-gene disorder like sickle cell anemia.[2] Imagine if we could intervene at the gene level to prevent blindness, metabolic diseases and degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. We invest in companies working on breakthrough approaches, like using AI to unlock 4 billion years’ worth of microbial evolution data and enable gene editing systems that would provide curative therapies.[3]

Companies addressing leap 01:

CITATIONS

[1] There are approx. over 10.000 human diseases that are known to be monogenic. https://www.who.int/genomics/public/geneticdiseases/en/index2.htm
[2] One percent of the population is affected by a single-gene disorder, such as sickle-cell anemia. geneticalliance.org.uk/information/learn-about-genetics/genetic-disorders/
[3] Metagenomi is working to reveal novel gene-editing systems that could treat uncurable genetic diseases. They are building an expanded gene-editing toolbox, using artificial intelligence to unlock data from 4 billion years of microbial evolution. https://metagenomi.co/technology

02 / Provide
sustainable organ replacement

Category: health

An on-demand organ supply could end years of waiting and enable additional years of living.

While it’s estimated that nearly 2 million people worldwide are waiting for an organ transplant,[1] only 3 in 1000 people die in a way that allows for their organs to be donated.[2] Multiple genetic factors make it even more difficult to match an organ donor with a patient.[3] We invest in companies tackling these challenges, like overcoming the virology and immunology obstacles and using xenotransplantation to create a sustainable supply of organs.[4]

Companies addressing leap 02:

CITATIONS

[1] It is estimated that there are between 1.5 to 2 million people on organ transplant waitlists globally. https://repository.uchastings.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1838&context=hastings_international_comparative_law_review pages 511-512
[2] 3 in 1000 people die in a way that their organs can be donated, further limiting supply. https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html
[3] Organ compatibility also complicates matters, as there are multiple genetic factors that make it difficult to match an organ donor with a patient. https://www.nfb.org/sites/www.nfb.org/files/images/nfb/publications/vod/vodsum0601.htm
[4] eGenesis strives to create a world with no shortage of human transplantable organs. To do this, eGenesis is using cutting edge gene editing technologies to make the long-time dream of xenotransplantation a reality. Xenotransplation means producing human-compatible organs in animals. eGenesis has already shown proof of concept along the path to creating ensuring that organs can be produced safely, without risk of spreading diseases from pigs to humans and without a negative response from the patient’s immune system. https://www.egenesisbio.com

03 / Reduce
environmental impact of agriculture

Category: agriculture

Nourishing a growing population without starving the planet is a monumental challenge.

More than ever, we need to shift the paradigm from producing ‘more to better’ food on a global scale. Agriculture currently consumes 50% of habitable land and 70% of the earth’s fresh water.[1] ‘More to better’ means better use of land and resources, better nutrition from crops, more meaningful sustainability practices, and better solutions for the diverse needs of people and our planet. We invest in companies that empower vertical farming, increasing access to produce in our cities while reducing the land[2] and fresh water[3] needed to grow it. Our portfolio companies engineer soil microbiomes, where nitrogen fixation technology could reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizer and the greenhouse gasses it generates.[4] Other Leaps portfolio companies innovate and develop cover crops that reduce tillage to advance precision farming and carbon sequestration. [5] We seek out partners whose disruptive business approach yields better outcomes for people and the planet.

Companies addressing leap 03:

CITATIONS

[1] 70% of global freshwater is used for agricultural purposes. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water-in-agriculture#:~:text=Currently%2C%20agriculture%20accounts%20(on%20average,to%20the%20evapotranspiration%20of%20crops)
As a consequence of deforestation, 50% of the global habitable land is now being used for agriculture. In addition, 78% of ocean and freshwater pollution is caused by agriculture. https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food
[2] Vertical farming requires only 10% of the land, compared to conventional farming. blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2015/12/10/how-sustainable-is-vertical-farming-students-try-to-answer-the-question/
[3] Vertical farming requires 90% less water, compared to conventional farming. eitfood.eu/blog/post/is-vertical-farming-really-sustainable
Imagine no pesticides were used growing our vegetables, and they could be accessed locally 24/7, saving 1000’s of miles of travel and carbon emissions. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/unfold-ag_verticalfarming-agtech-futureoffood-activity-6700067974339936256-zZYX
[4] If JoynBio is successful at engineering the soil microbiome to achieve nitrogen fixation, we could dramatically reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizer, and the 3% of global annual greenhouse gases it generates. https://joynbio.com
[5] Covercress is a new oilseed crop for food, bioenergy and animal feed that covers and protects open soil between corn and soybean crops. It offers a dual positive impact on carbon, as it produces a low carbon intensity feedstock and sequesters carbon as well. http://www.covercress.com

04 / Prevent
and cure cancer

Category: health

Biotechnology that leverages the immune system, iPSCs, and other emerging platforms could make huge strides in the fight against cancer.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world and, in developed nations,[1] 1 in 2 adults are at risk for developing it.[2] Current diagnostic methods lack the ability to early detect or predict the development of cancer. We invest in companies working on important breakthroughs, like developing cell and gene-based therapies that could cure some of the most resistant cancers instead of simply putting them into remission. Others are working with next-generation immuno-therapies that could make off-the-shelf cures possible and more accessible.[3]

Companies addressing leap 04:

CITATIONS

[1] Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally… https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
[2] In developed nations like the US and UK, nearly 1 in 2 adults risk developing cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/lifetime-probability-of-developing-or-dying-from-cancer.html
[3] Leaps company Century Therapeutics develops off-the-shelf cell therapies to advance the course of cancer care by developing iPSC-derived, allogeneic immune cell therapy products. https://www.centurytx.com

05 / Regenerate
lost tissue function

Category: health

Cell therapy holds tremendous promise to restore health and reverse the course of degenerative diseases.

Most heart tissue, brain and nerve cells can’t regenerate themselves. It’s a major reason that heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death [1] and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s dramatically and progressively destroy quality of life.[2] We invest in companies that use induced pluripotent stem cells to address a range of indications, potentially restoring heart muscles damaged by a heart attack, or neurons lost to Parkinson’s. [3] Others leverage gene circuit technology that could optimize cell and gene therapies across delivery modalities and therapeutic areas, or leveraging AI and machine learning to combat fibrosis. [4]

Companies addressing leap 05:

CITATIONS

[1] Heart diseases are the most common cause of death worldwide. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm#:~:text=Coronary%20heart%20disease%20is%20the,killing%20365%2C914%20people%20in%202017.&text=About%2018.2%20million%20adults%20age,have%20CAD%20(about%206.7%25).&text=About%202%20in%2010%20deaths,less%20than%2065%20years%20old
[2] Degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s result in a dramatic, progressive loss of quality of life as dopamine. https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-pd.htm
[3] BlueRock is using its proprietary cell+gene platform to direct cellular differentiation and genetically engineer cells to create an entirely new generation of cellular medicines in the areas of neurology, cardiology, and immunology. https://bluerocktx.com
[4] Senti Bio’s gene circuit technology platform can be deployed into multiple other cell and gene therapy delivery modalities, across diverse therapeutic areas, such as immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, regenerative medicine and genetic diseases – with the potential to move from treatment to cure. https://www.sentibio.com/ “The collaboration with Recursion enables us to discover small molecule drug candidates targeting novel biology for the treatment of fibrotic diseases and complements our expertise in cardiovascular research with digital technologies.” https://media.bayer.com/baynews/baynews.nsf/ID/Bayer-collaborates-Recursion-strengthen-digital-discovery-advance-therapies-fibrotic-diseases

06 / Reverse
autoimmune diseases

Category: health

Permanently reversing autoimmune diseases could enable lives free of chronic pain, disease management, and life-threatening conditions.

Auto-immune diseases are the third most common group of diseases.[1] They’re usually chronic, presently incurable and some cause severe, life-threatening issues. [2] Current treatments involve suppressing the entire immune system, which puts the body at greater risk for even more serious diseases like cancer.[3] Imagine if we could develop new technologies that enable targeted regulation of the immune system, or if T-cells could be retrained to work with other immune cells. Imagine if we could permanently reverse autoimmune diseases including Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis.

CITATIONS

[1] They form the third most common group of diseases after cardiovascular and tumor diseases. https://www.imd-berlin.de/spezielle-kompetenzen/autoimmunerkrankungen.html
[2] Autoimmune diseases are usually chronic, currently incurable and can cause severe, life-threatening health issues. https://www.swr.de/swr2/wissen/broadcastcontrib-swr-29866.html
[3] Current treatments are largely limited to suppressing the entire immune system, which lower the body’s ability to fight off infections and more serious diseases, like cancer. https://www.swr.de/swr2/wissen/autoimmunerkrankungen-100.html

07 / Cure
through microbiome health

Category: health / agriculture

Restoring microbiome health could help people suffering from depression, intractable skin conditions, and other diseases. Microbes could also help make agriculture more sustainable.

The human microbiome is made up of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on our skin, mucosa and intestinal tract.[1] Together, these trillions of microbes can affect our health, sleep, mood, stress and how we respond to certain drugs including chemotherapy.[2] We invest in companies that are building a deep understanding of the skin microbiome. [3] Imagine if we could customize probiotics and other aspects to optimize an individual’s health and prevent a variety of diseases. The soil microbiome surrounding plants influences how they grow and thrive.[4] We also invest in companies exploring ways to alter soil microbiomes, enabling plants to better ward off disease and pests, and even draw nitrogen from the air. [5]

Companies addressing leap 07:

CITATIONS

[1] The human microbiome consists of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on and in the human organism’s skin, mucosa, and intestinal tract. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health#section1
[2] Recent studies have connected our gut microbiome to diseases and conditions including diabetes, autism, anxiety or obesity. Research has shown connections between microbiome health and sleep, mood, stress, and more. Scientists have also found out that the gut microbiome might be linked to how patients respond to certain drugs, such as to chemotherapy. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health#section1
[3] Leaps by Bayer leads USD 17 million Series B financing in Azitra, a biotech company harnessing the human skin microbiome to develop cutting-edge solutions moving the paradigm from treatment to cure in dermatology. https://media.bayer.com/baynews/baynews.nsf/id/Leaps-by-Bayer-leads-USD-17-million-Series-B-financing-in-biotech-company-Azitra
[4] Microbiomes are present in and around plants as well, influencing how they grow and thrive. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.01563/full
[5] Learn more about Joyn Bio and Agbiome https://joynbio.com https://www.agbiome.com

08 / Develop
sustainable protein supply

Category: agriculture

Nourishing a global population will require new approaches to sustain both a healthy planet and healthy people.

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), there are more than 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion pigs and sheep [1] that require 80% of the world’s available agricultural land.[2] Further, 36% of the world’s crop calories are used for animal feed.[3] At the same time, poor nutrition is linked to the rise of chronic diseases, which are responsible for an estimated 60% of the death and 46% of the disease burden worldwide. [4] We invest in companies working to make high-quality proteins for millions. Imagine if we could scale the production of cultured meat and other technologies that replicate the flavor, texture and nutrition of traditional meat, dramatically reducing its environmental footprint. And protein is just the start. As we move from ‘more to better’, we have the chance to improve allergenicity, fiber, glycemic index, and vitamin content.

Companies addressing leap 08:

CITATIONS

[1] According to the FAO, more than 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion pigs and sheep are currently being farmed for the meat industry worldwide. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/chart-of-the-day-this-is-how-many-animals-we-eat-each-year
[2] Of the approximately 5 billion hectares of agricultural land available worldwide, about 80 percent is used for animal husbandry alone. https://www.wwf.de/themen-projekte/landwirtschaft/ernaehrung-konsum/fleisch/der-appetit-auf-fleisch-und-seine-folgen
[3] We investigated crop allocations both in terms of calorie content and protein content. We find that on a global basis, crops grown for direct human consumption represent 67% of global crop production (by mass), 55% of global calorie production, and 40% of global plant protein production (table 2). Feed crops represent 24% of global crop production by mass. However since feed crops like maize, soybeans, and oil seed meal are dense in both calories and protein content, feed crops represent 36% of global calorie production and 53% of global plant protein production. Together crops used for industrial uses, including biofuels, make up 9% of crops by mass, 9% by calorie content, and 7% of total plant protein production https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015/pdf
[4] The burden of chronic diseases is rapidly increasing worldwide. It has been calculated that, in 2001, chronic diseases contributed approximately 60% of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and approximately 46% of the global burden of disease (1). https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/924120916X

09 / Eradicate
insect-borne infections

Category: health / agriculture

Emerging tech could eliminate preventable health risks among people already struggling with poverty and lack of health care.

In the tropics and sub-tropics, over 300 million infections and one million deaths are reported each year from malaria.[1] Yellow fever infections continue to rise even though a highly effective vaccine has been available for decades.[2] Meanwhile, dengue fever has no vaccine.[3] Imagine if we could permanently and cost-effectively eradicate these diseases and prevent the infection of over 700 million people. We are exploring innovative biotech solutions that eschew pesticides and more effectively reduce disease transmission.[4]

CITATIONS

[1] In the tropics and subtropics, over 300 million infections and around one million deaths are reported annually. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria
[2] The number of yellow fever infections is increasing -even though a highly effective vaccine against the disease has been available for decades. https://www.t-online.de/gesundheit/krankheiten-symptome/id_64351676/diese-krankheiten-werden-durch-muecken-uebertragen.html
[3] There is no vaccine against dengue fever. https://www.who.int/immunization/research/development/dengue_vaccines/en
[4] What if we could eradicate these diseases globally, permanently, and cost-efficiently, preventing infection of over 700 million people who will suffer and possibly die. One technology currently being explored to eradicate these diseases is gene drives, sometimes known as the RIDL method (Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/vector-borne-diseases

10 / Drive
transformational business models

Category: health / agriculture

Emerging companies with data and insight at their core could transform the life sciences for the better.

From diagnosis to treatment to drug discovery, technology is transforming medicine. Building a predictive and personal model of our health is increasingly possible in theory but not yet in reality. In agriculture, smarter land usage has never been more critical, but simply providing data to farmers just makes difficult decisions even harder. Imagine if AI, together with digital platforms and optimized global connectivity, could enable even remote, small farms to easily and reliably reduce inputs and risk, while maximizing their efficiency. Imagine if AI could enable the repair of a heart with cell and gene therapy before the person even experiences a chest pain.

Companies addressing leap 10:

Meet Our Companies

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Growing knowledge
through collaboration.

We collaborate with the world’s brightest minds, making significant and sustained investments of both money and time.

Some are joint ventures we have built, while others are early-stage companies with an extraordinary disruptive approach. All are working to shift core paradigms in life sciences.

Health:
From treatment to cure / prevention

Modern medicine has been pivotal in doubling life expectancy over the last 150 years.

We believe it is our responsibility to not only pursue biomedical innovations that could disrupt our core business, but to transform the lives of millions of patients for the better.

Agriculture:
From more to better

Agriculture today is optimized for the scale of a growing population. Next-generation technologies need to produce better food, better use of land and resources, better nutrition, better sustainability, and better solutions for the diverse needs of people and our planet.

Learn about selected companies.

Century Therapeutics

Category: health

Vision

Century Therapeutics aims to become a leading developer of allogeneic iPSC derived NK and T cell products for cancer, working towards a world in which we can cure all types of cancer in all patients with safe and well tolerated medicines.

Approach

Century Therapeutics is utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to develop genetically engineered immune effector cell products with the potential to overcome many limitations of earlier generation autologous and allogeneic cell therapies. Century Therapeutics' differentiated technology platform enables production of multiplex-gene edited CAR-iNK and iT products for hematologic and solid cancers that are potent, safe and durable, and designed to avoid host rejection and overcome the suppressive tumor microenvironment.


CEO: Lalo Flores, PhD

Scientific Co-founder: Hiro Nakauchi, professor of genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine

First investment: July 2019

Century Therapeutics is helping us achieve:

Leap 04 / Prevent
and cure cancer

Ukko

Category: agriculture

Vision

Ukko is improving the lives of the millions that suffer from food allergies and sensitivities.

Approach

Ukko uses immunology, machine learning and protein engineering to make measurably better and safer proteins for treating allergies. Ukko does this by designing and controlling the molecular interactions between allergen proteins and the immune system. Specifically, Ukko has developed an AI driven protein design platform which allows the design of food proteins that keep all the ‘good’ of the protein but get rid of the ‘bad’.

On the food side, Ukko is developing a new kind of gluten that will be similar to regular gluten but specifically designed for those with gluten sensitivities. Therefore, Ukko’s gluten will allow everyone to eat foods like bread, pasta, pizza dough, baked goods and more. On the therapeutic front, Ukko’s platform will allow the development of an investigational treatment which will provide a safer, more effective therapy than current approaches, and aims to include even those with the most severe allergies.


CEO: Anat Binur, PhD

Founder(s): Anat Binur, PhD, Yanay Orfan PhD

First investment: December 2020

Ukko is helping us achieve:

Leap 08 / Develop
sustainable protein supply

Metagenomi

Category: health

Vision

Metagenomi is shifting the gene editing paradigm to cure diseases.

Approach

Metagenomi is accelerating innovation in cell and gene therapy with a wave of proprietary CRISPR-based systems to accurately edit DNA where current technologies cannot. Their metagenomics-powered discovery platform and analytical expertise reveal novel cellular machinery from otherwise unknown organisms. They adapt and forge these naturally evolved systems into powerful therapeutic tools that can be leveraged by partners and fuel our own pipeline of potentially curative medicines. Their goal is to revolutionize gene editing and unlock its power for the benefit of patients around the world.


CEO: Brian Thomas

Founder(s): Brian Thomas, Jillian Banfield

First investment: November 2020

Metagenomi is helping us achieve:

Leap 01 / Cure
genetic diseases

Unfold

Category: agriculture

Vision

Unfold is unleashing quantum leaps in the capability of vertical farming to delight and fully feed people from “seed to table.” In doing so, Unfold will help realize the true potential of plants to seed, feed, and sustain people and the planet.

Approach

Unfold focuses on innovation in vegetable varieties to lift the vertical farming space to the next level of quality, efficiency, and sustainability. While most start-ups in the vertical farming market are focusing on the development of more efficient infrastructure, Unfold is the only company with unparalleled assets to unlock the genetic potential of vertical farming, providing an integrated suite of superior seeds and digital services, coupled with shared learning and agronomic insight, responsively attuned to tailored for the unique indoor environment and needs of vertical farms.

By utilizing the seed genetics (germplasm) from vegetable crops, Unfold will focus on developing new seed varieties coupled with agronomic advice.


CEO: John Purcell, Ph.D.

Founder(s): Leaps by Bayer, Temasek

First investment: July 2020

Unfold is helping us achieve:

Leap 03 / Reduce
environmental impact of agriculture

eGenesis

Category: health

Vision

eGenesis strives to create a world with no shortage of human transplantable organs.

Approach

eGenesis is revolutionizing the field of transplantation with an unparalleled, multiplexed gene editing platform for the development of human-compatible organs, tissues and cells. eGenesis is uniquely positioned to reinvigorate the field of xenotransplantation by addressing the key virology and immunology hurdles that have impeded its advancement to date.


CEO: Paul Sekhri

Founder(s): Dr. Luhan Yang, Dr. George Church

First investment: July 2019

eGenesis is helping us achieve:

Leap 02 / Provide
sustainable organ replacement

Joyn Bio

Category: agriculture

Vision

Joyn Bio engineers microbial solutions for more sustainable agriculture to feed a growing global population.

Approach

Using its microbe engineering platform, Joyn Bio is developing a portfolio of scientifically-validated biologicals to reimagine agriculture with sustainability at the forefront. With new innovations for growers across nitrogen fixation, pest control, disease management, and more, Joyn Bio’s solutions will meet the highest levels of performance and reliability.


CEO: Mike Miille

Founder(s): Leaps by Bayer, Ginkgo Bioworks

First investment: September 2017

Joyn Bio is helping us achieve:

Leap 03 / Reduce
environmental impact of agriculture

BlueRock Therapeutics

Category: health

Vision

BlueRock Therapeutics is passionate about delivering on the promise of cellular and gene therapy, shaping the future of cellular medicine, and delivering new therapies to millions of patients with few treatment options.

Approach

BlueRock Therapeutics is a leading engineered cell therapy company with a mission to develop regenerative medicines for intractable diseases. BlueRock Therapeutics’ CELL+GENE™ platform harnesses the power of cells for new medicines across neurology, cardiology and immunology indications.


CEO: Emile Nuwaysir

Founder(s): Leaps by Bayer, Versant Ventures

First investment: December 2016

BlueRock Therapeutics is helping us achieve:

Leap 01 / Cure
genetic diseases

Oerth Bio

Category: agriculture

Vision

Oerth Bio seeks to transform public perception of agricultural chemicals and usher in a new era of plant health.

Approach

Oerth Bio is pioneering PROTAC® technology in agriculture and leveraging their integrated PROTAC® discovery engine to become the world’s leader in plant-related E3’s and PROTAC degrader design in Ag.


CEO: John Dombrosky

Founder(s): Arvinas, Leaps by Bayer

First investment: July 2019

Oerth Bio is helping us achieve:

Leap 03 / Reduce
environmental impact of agriculture

Our portfolio
at a glance.