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The Week in Agrifoodtech: Rebel Foods raises $175m, Culture Biosciences banks $80m (UPDATED)

October 13, 2021

Editor’s note: Culture Biosciences’ $80 million fundraise was announced at 3 pm ET on Thursday, October 14. AFN has added the news as an update to this roundup.

There was news of two major funding rounds in India this week, with cloud kitchen operator Rebel Foods raising $275 million and silk agriculture platform ReshaMandi reeling in $30 million.

Elsewhere, veteran agrifoodtech VC firm S2G Ventures was confirmed as part of a new impact initiative launched by its main backer, Walmart scion Lukas Walton.

Foodtech startup funding

🇮🇳 Cloud kitchen company Rebel Foods becomes a unicorn, eyes IPO after $175 million funding round. Founded in 2011, the startup operates 450 kitchens in 10 countries, including its native India. Qatar Investment Authority, Coatue, and Evolvence were among the investors to participate in the round. (Inc42)

🇺🇸 Culture Biosciences raises $80 million Series B to scale cloud bioreactors for food biotech companies. Northpond Ventures led the round, joined by Synthesis Capital. Existing investors Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, The Production Board, Craft Ventures, E14 Fund, Box Group, Verily Life Sciences also contributed. Find out more about the company here. (Culture Biosciences)

🇺🇸 Better Brand scores $2.5 million funding led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six. The Los Angeles-based startup is using modified enzyme technology to create lower-carbohydrate versions of bagels and similar products. (Better Brand)

🇫🇷 Pasta-making robot startup Cala raises €5.5 million ($6.36 million). It’ll use the funds to grow its restaurant locations in France, expand across Europe, and hire new team members. Backed VC led the round. (PitchBook Newsletter)

🇺🇸 Food biodesign startup Kingdom Supercultures raises $25 million. The New York-based company develops natural microbial cultures for use as ingredients in plant-based and fermented foods, beverages, and personal care products. The Series A round was led by Shine Capital with Valor, Tao, Lux, SALT, Reference, and Digitalis among the others investors taking part. (Kingdom Supercultures)

Agtech startup funding

🇺🇸 Pluton Biosciences raises $6.6 million seed funding. The St Louis-based startup searches for naturally occurring microbes that could have applications in fields such as agriculture, carbon sequestration, and disease control. Better Ventures led the round with the Grantham Foundation, Fall Line Capital, and First In Ventures among other investors. (TechCrunch)

🇮🇳 Silk B2B startup ReshaMandi raises $30 million in funding. It provides a “full-stack digital ecosystem” for the silk production industry, “from farm to fashion.” Investors in the Series A round included Omnivore, 9 Unicorns, and Venture Catalysts, among others. (The Economic Times)

🇺🇸 Indoor mushroom grower Smallhold collects $25 million in Series A funding on the back of strong post-pandemic demand. Astanor Ventures led the round with Energy Impact Partners and Wheatsheaf Group Limited alongside other existing investors including AlleyCorp and David Barber’s fund Almanac Insight. (Forbes)

🇳🇴 OptoScale nets $4.1 million to grow its fish farm monitoring tech. Blue Ocean, a marine impact fund managed by France’s SWEN Capital Partners, led the round. Norwegian VC firm Skagerak Maturo also participated. (AFN)

🇳🇿 Orchard tech startup Hectre attracts $3.5 million in capital raise. The Auckland-based company uses AI to collect and analyze data for growers on fruit size, color, and yield. (Stuff)

🇵🇰 Tazah closes $2 million pre-seed round to solve agrifood supply chain inefficiencies in Pakistan. Global Founders Capital and Zayn Capital co-led the investment in the Lahore-based B2B fresh produce marketplace. (Menabytes)

🇦🇺 Farmbot banks A$2.7 million ($1.99 million) ahead of Series B round. The startup is aiming to install thousands of water monitors across rural Australia. Telecom giant Telstra invested A$1 million ($740,000) as part of the tranche. (Australian Financial Review)

🇨🇦 Relocalize raises $1.4 million for its food “micro-factories.” The Montreal-based startup said it plans to deploy thousands of micro-factories at grocery distribution centres across North America. The pre-seed round saw participation from current and former senior execs at companies including Sobeys, Slack, and Emerson. (Relocalize)

🇮🇪 CarbonSpace raises $1.04 million seed funding to measure carbon footprint of food and forestry. The Dublin-based startup is using satellite data to measure changes in the atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions of agriculture. The Yield Lab Europe led the round, with Rockstart co-investing. (AFN)

Funds & accelerators

🇺🇸 S2G Ventures revealed as part of Walmart heir’s new impact platform, Builders Vision. Lukas Walton is the biggest investor in the Chicago-based agrifoodtech VC, which operates under the newly unveiled platform’s investment arm. Builders Vision will “support changemakers and innovators working to build a better future” across four ‘impact areas’ – agrifood, oceans, climate and energy, and community. (Fast Company)

🇺🇸 Fulcrum Global Capital hits $44 million first close of second agrifoodtech fund. Over two-thirds of the new fund’s backers are “US-based ag producers” representing “millions of head of production animals and millions of crop production acres,” according to the firm. (Fulcrum Global Capital)

Mergers, acquisitions & partnerships

🇺🇸 Bushel acquires Cargill and ADM‘s GrainBridge. The latter will become part of Bushel’s software offering, adding a data science component the companies say will help farmers and grain buyers make more informed decisions around grain marketing activities. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Reef Technology has acquired its logistics parter Bond. The cloud kitchen enabler has already worked for some time with Bond, which operates “nano-warehouses” for last-mile delivery of food and other goods. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. (Restaurant Dive)

It’s also launching 300 new ghost kitchens with casual dining chain TGI Fridays. The deal follows Reef’s recent, similar tie-ups with Wendy’s and 800 Degrees Pizza. (Restaurant Dive)

Other news

🌐 Halt destruction of nature or risk “dead planet,” leading businesses warn. In an open letter sent in advance of the COP26 global climate summit, the chief executives of Unilever, Rabobank, Yara, and eight other major companies called on governments to take urgent action on biodiversity loss. (The Guardian)

🇺🇸 Proposed FOREST Act would hold global agrifood suppliers accountable for illegal deforestation. The new bill introduced to the US Congress seeks to prohibit the import of agricultural commodities including palm oil, soybeans, rubber, pulp, and cocoa — as well as beef — if they have contributed to illegal deforestation. (Mongabay)

🇸🇬 Good Food Institute moves Asia-Pacific headquarters to Singapore. The nonprofit had been based in Hong Kong and said it’ll maintain an “on-the-ground presence” there, but opted to relocate “as Singapore has emerged as a global epicenter of the alternative protein space.” (Good Food Institute)

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