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HomeIndustry NewsDean Banks Appointed CEO of Indigo Ag and CEO-Partner of Flagship Pioneering

Dean Banks Appointed CEO of Indigo Ag and CEO-Partner of Flagship Pioneering

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., January 9, 2024 – Flagship Pioneering, the bioplatform innovation company, and Indigo Ag, an innovative leader and trusted partner in sustainable agriculture, today announced that Dean Banks will join Flagship Pioneering as CEO-Partner and CEO of Indigo Ag, effective February 1, 2024. Banks will also continue as an Indigo board member, a role he has held since July 2022. Indigo also announced the appointments of Nader Bekhouche (Investment Corporation of Dubai) and Noubar Afeyan (Flagship Pioneering) to its Board of Directors. As a follow up to the company’s initial financing announcement in September 2023, Indigo also announced the final close of its financing round at an expanded raise of nearly $270 million.

Banks is the former President and CEO of Tyson Foods and a former member of the leadership team at X (an Alphabet company, formerly known as Google [X]), in addition to holding numerous leadership and entrepreneurial roles across the food, agriculture, technology and life sciences industries. He succeeds Ron Hovsepian, who has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since September 2020. During his tenure, Hovsepian was responsible for successfully producing the world’s first crop of registry-issued ag carbon credits at scale, expanding the company’s industry-leading biological seed treatments, and the ongoing development and deployment of second-generation digital merchandising solutions.  

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Ron for his leadership in taking Indigo to a new level of performance and growth and laying the foundation for its forward path in becoming the undisputed leader in the transformation to regenerative agriculture,” said Robert Berendes, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Indigo Ag and Executive Partner, Flagship Pioneering. “We are delighted Ron will continue to contribute to Indigo’s success as a board member and an advisor to the CEO.”

Berendes continued, “Dean has been a strategic and deeply engaged board member for Indigo, drawing on his extensive experience as an entrepreneur, technologist, innovator, and business executive. He is an energizing leader and visionary, and I am confident he will steward the company into this next critical phase of growth and profitability, and ultimately realize the full potential of the Indigo platform for companies, farmers, and the planet.”

“Dean brings entrepreneurial and operational experience and excellence to Indigo and an extensive track record in building value for life sciences, tech, and food companies, and he joins at an exciting time, given the recent close of the company’s latest financing round,” said Noubar Afeyan, Founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering and Co-Founder of Indigo Ag. “His unique background makes him well-positioned to realize Indigo’s bold ambitions and also to contribute to Flagship’s growing sustainability portfolio.

“I’m thrilled to take on the role of CEO of Indigo Ag. Over the last year on the board, I have witnessed the tremendous investment we’ve made to build scientifically validated digital sustainability tools and biological products that farmers, agribusiness, our CPG partners, and our planet urgently need,” said Dean Banks, Incoming CEO of Indigo Ag and CEO-Partner of Flagship Pioneering. “Indigo’s solutions are delivering on their promise to help make our farmers more successful today, driving higher yields and new revenue streams while helping them nurture their soil for better tomorrows. The company is uniquely positioned as a trusted, independent partner impacting millions of acres today across the agricultural value chain. I look forward to working with the team to take the company to the next level as we scale its growth and impact.”

About Dean Banks

Banks most recently served as President and CEO of Tyson Foods where he was responsible for charting the long-term vision and transformation plan for the company including integration of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, sustainable supply chain solutions and development of alternative proteins throughout its operations. During his four-year tenure with the company, he also served on the Board and executive leadership team. 

Banks joined Tyson from the high-tech incubator at Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google [X], where he served on the leadership team and led moonshot projects across multiple industries including sustainable food (as co-founder of Tidal) and robotics (as co-founder of Intrinsic).

Banks was previously managing partner of SEED Ventures, a group investing in and developing early-stage healthcare technologies. He also has served as a consultant to Cleveland Clinic Innovations, SVP of Business Development and Strategic Marketing at OrthoHelix, co‐founder and CEO of Connective Orthopedics, and Vice President at Highland Capital Partners. He currently serves on the Boards of Vergent Bioscience (where he was a co-founder and founding CEO), on the Advisory Board of Shiru, and is a Sr. Advisor at Advent International.

Banks served as a former platoon sergeant and squad leader in the U.S. Marine Corps. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.

Company Closes Financing Round

Indigo recently closed a financing round at nearly $270 million. As announced in September 2023, Indigo’s funding round included existing investors, led by Flagship Pioneering, and new investors, including the State of Michigan Retirement System, one of the largest pension funds in the U.S. and Lingotto Investment Management, a $3 billion innovation-focused fund owned by Exor N.V., one of Europe’s largest diversified holding companies.

“This latest funding round is a testament to the power of Indigo’s platform and positions the company for growth across all aspects of the business, from biologicals to digital to carbon,” said Berendes. 

Indigo Adds to Board of Directors

As members of the board, Nader Bekhouche and Noubar Afeyan bring decades of experience to the company’s leadership team and will help Indigo Ag take the next step to deliver meaningful and impactful solutions that turn sustainable practices into value for its farmer, agribusiness, and corporate customers.

Berendes noted, “I’m thrilled to add these two uniquely skilled leaders to our board. Their addition will further strengthen our board and its ability to quickly and decisively make important decisions that will benefit our farming community, our corporate customers, and the planet.”

Nader Bekhouche is currently heading the Growth Equity investment team at Investment Corporation of Dubai, the principal investment arm of the Government of Dubai, which he joined in 2015. Bekhouche has held many positions in the technology, agriculture and food industries. For the past, four years, he has also served on the board of directors of Inari Agriculture, a company also founded by Flagship Pioneering, which uses its proprietary AI-powered predictive design and multiplex gene editing toolbox to create high performing plant varieties to sustainably improve agriculture.

“Indigo Ag has ingeniously created solutions to not only maximize the profitability of farming businesses but also to unlock the decarbonization potential of farmland. What Indigo Ag has achieved is a remarkable synthesis that sets it apart — a category of one.” said Bekhouche. “It’s an intricate combination that others will find incredibly challenging to replicate. I am truly excited to join the Indigo Ag Board at this pivotal juncture. I am looking forward to providing strategic insights and support as Indigo Ag increasingly focuses on profitable growth. The Company’s prowess in creating a unique business model positions it as a force with the potential to shape the future of sustainable agriculture.” 

Afeyan is founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, and a co-founder of Indigo Ag. During his career as inventor, entrepreneur, and CEO, Afeyan has cofounded and helped build over 70 life science and technology companies, including Moderna, and has written numerous scientific publications and is the inventor of over 100 patents.

Bekhouche and Afeyan will join Berendes, Banks and Hovsepian on the Board of Directors, along with Stéphane Bancel, Andreas Fibig, John Gehring, Geoffrey von Maltzahn, and Deborah Winshel.

About Indigo Ag

Indigo Ag is the sustainable agriculture partner that helps farmers and agribusinesses optimize today’s yields and profitability, while nourishing the soil for better tomorrows and helping corporations reach their sustainability goals. 

By harnessing science and technology, Indigo Ag’s sustainability programs unlock access to high value revenue streams while promoting practices that help land keep its value for future generations. Indigo is currently the only company offering corporations high quality agricultural carbon credits and scope 3 emissions reductions at scale. Our innovative biologicals boost plant growth to help maximize yields, even in tough conditions. And their state-of-the-art digital software facilitates greater efficiency, accuracy and profitability for crop transactions.

Founded in 2013, Indigo Ag is focused on creating more profitable farmers and more sustainable companies. Operating across 14 countries, the company is delivering on its mission of harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet.

About Flagship Pioneering

Flagship Pioneering is a biotechnology company that invents and builds platform companies, each with the potential for multiple products that transform human health or sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, Flagship has originated and fostered more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in more than $90 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $3.4 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $26 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises over 40 companies, including Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Foghorn Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FHTX), Generate:Biomedicines, Inari, Indigo Agriculture, Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Omega Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OMGA), Sana Biotechnology (NASDAQ: SANA), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB) and Tessera Therapeutics.

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