Danforth Center Spinout Benson Hill Goes Public VALUED AT $1.35B pre-money—ONLY THE SECOND “UNICORN” IN ST. LOUIS They are called “unicorns” because they are rarely seen. In Silicon Valley slang, a “unicorn” is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. St. Louis had its first unicorn in January (Nerdy), but Danforth Center spinout Benson Hill is the second.
Benson Hill, Inc., a food technology company co-founded by Danforth Center Principal Investigator Todd Mockler, PhD, went public in late September. After merging with Star Peak Corp. II, a special-purpose acquisition company, in a deal that valued Benson Hill at $1.35 billion, Benson Hill began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbols “BHIL” and “BHIL.WS”. We caught up with Dr. Mockler on his way to New York to ring the bell:
- How do you feel about the fact that Benson Hill just went public as a “unicorn,” only the second unicorn in St. Louis? “We knew this direction held so much potential, so it’s a great validation. I could not be prouder of everything Matt Crisp and the Benson Hill team have accomplished. This is a win for St. Louis and for the planet.”
- When did you first realize Benson Hill was going to be big? How did your work at the Danforth Center prepare you to spinout a company? “We knew the idea to apply genomics and data science to agtech was big, even back in 2012, but we had to move quickly. The Danforth Center actively encourages the acceleration of big ideas into the marketplace. I don’t know if we would have succeeded to this level without the Danforth Center’s culture of innovation.”
- You caught lightning once. Do you see another startup in your future? “I am currently working on a new startup called Lone Wolf Genetics. We’re applying some of the same technologies and approaches—genome analysis, predictive breeding, gene editing, high-throughput phenotyping—all driven or enabled by AI—to cannabis, including industrial hemp.” VIEW VIDEO