Derek Norman Takes Over as Head of Syngenta Ventures, as Alex Steel Moves on – exclusive

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Syngenta has promoted Derek Norman to head of corporate venture capital at the Swiss agribusiness, AgFunderNews can reveal.

Norman succeeds Alex Steel, who has left the venture team to become the territory head of North Europe for Syngenta. Norman will lead Syngenta Ventures from Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, where teammates Gabriel Wilmoth and David Pierson are also based.

The other two members of the team, Michael Lee and Katrin Burt, are based in Basel, Switzerland, and the UK respectively.

Norman joined Syngenta’s venture team in 2009 while Steel joined in 2012.

Syngenta Ventures has a portfolio of over 15 companies and $100 million deployed after starting to invest in agtech in 2006. In 2015, it made four news investments: Greenlight Biosciences, a cell-free production system for chemicals used in food, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and non-petroleum based fuels; Blue River Technologies, a wedding robot manufacturer; Phytech, a plant sensor company, and Planet Labs, the satellite company.

Other notable investments in the portfolio include microbiome-focused ag inputs company AgBiome, animal nutrition business Agrivida, and LED manufacturer for indoor agriculture Illumitex.

The team is set to announce its first 2016 investment later this month, Norman told AgFunderNews.

In February, Syngenta accepted ChemChina‘s acquisition offer for $43 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Syngenta will remain a separate company with its headquarters in Switzerland.

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