Monday, February 26, 2024

New investment fund cultivates agri-tech future

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Agri-tech and foods investment fund Cultivate Ventures closes off successful first funding round.
Dr Alison Stewart, CEO of the Foundation for Arable Research, says FAR is working with 16 other plant sector groups on readiness plans for brown marmorated stink bug.
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New agri-tech and foods investment fund Cultivate Ventures has closed off a successful first funding round, including raising $3 million from cornerstone investor Foundation for Arable Research.

With an assortment of funding partners that include growers and farmers from throughout New Zealand and high net worth individuals, fund manager Northington Partners is targeting $40 million in total.

Plans are to invest in a portfolio of 10-15 high growth agri-tech and food-beverage companies over the coming five years. 

Alison Stewart, CEO of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), said her organisation’s aim is to enhance the arable sector’s profitability while maintaining and enhancing the natural environment for the future.

“New knowledge, new tools and technologies are critical to the successful growth of our industry, and we see Cultivate Ventures as a key vehicle to help us achieve this.”

Greg Anderson, fund principal and managing director for Northington, said the fund will play a critical role in NZ’s agricultural sector, delivering and stimulating greater investment into innovative high-growth agri-tech businesses, helping meet challenges raised by the likes of climate change, labour shortages, rising costs and supply chain issues.

The fund has been welcomed by Brendan O’Connell, CEO of AgriTech NZ.

“The fund is a very welcome and needed addition to the NZ investment landscape for agritech innovations.” 

He said the recent world agritech innovation summit highlighted the sheer pace of change happening globally in food systems, and the need for NZ to continue innovating.

The fund’s first investment has already kicked off with Ruminant BioTech, a company focusing on a bolus-based delivery system for methane mitigation, with a second fund investment completed late last year and soon due for announcement.

The fund’s investment decisions are overseen by an independent investment committee, headed up by former FAR and AgMARDT board member Richard Green.  

Green said the food and fibre sector is entering a time of significant change, with the fund well positioned to take advantage of this.

“Bold decisions and investments need to be made if NZ is to continue to have sustainable and prosperous food and fibre businesses in future,” he said.

Industry advisers have some well-known names among them, including Rangitikei farmer Hew Dalrymple, Dr Caroline Saunders of Lincoln University and Maury Leyland Penno of Leaft Foods.

Several more high-wealth individuals, growers and farmers are also conducting due diligence to invest in the fund’s second raising exercise later this year. 

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