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The Week in Agrifoodtech: Biomilq banks $21m; AeroFarms scraps SPAC

October 21, 2021

Bio-breastmilk maker Biomilq, coffee innovator Cometeer, and farm produce platform WayCool were among the startups raising big-ticket rounds this week; while vertical ag company AeroFarms announced an end to its SPAC intentions – for now, at least.

Elsewhere, Dutch startup Agreena announced a $4.7 million fundraise for its carbon market solution; and Israel’s Future Meat hinted at a US debut for its cell-cultured meat products.

Foodtech startup funding

🇺🇸 Coffee tech startup Cometeer raises $35 million in Series B funding. The company says the funding will be used to increase manufacturing as well as expand the number of coffee roasters it works with. (FoodBev Media)

🇺🇸 Biomilq bags $21 million Series A round. The North Carolinian startup aims to produce cell-cultured human breastmilk for babies at commercial scale. Novo Nordisk’s Novo Holdings led the round with participation from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Blue Horizon, Spero Ventures, Digitalis Ventures, Green Generation Fund, and Gaingels. (The Spoon)

🇬🇧 Neat Burger raises $7 million. The UK vegan restaurant chain is now valued at $70 million, following a funding round led by Rajeev Misra, CEO of Softbank Investment Advisors. Neat Burger says it will open one restaurant per month through the end of 2022. (Vegconomist)

🇺🇸 BluePallet raises $5 million. The financing round brings the company’s total funding to $10 million. BluePallet is a marketplace connecting manufacturers and the chemical industry. (TechCrunch)

🇳🇱 Orbisk banks €2.4 million ($2.8 million) from the EU to fight food waste. The Netherlands-based company makes an automated food waste monitoring service professional kitchens can use to fight and eradicate food waste in their operations. (EU Startups)

🇺🇸 Locale gets $2 million in seed funding. The round, led by Decent Capital, will help the company expand further across its hometown San Francisco while also entering new markets like Los Angeles and Marin County, California. (TechCrunch)

🇪🇬 ILLA closes $2 million round. The company provides full-stack delivery solutions to businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods such as food and beverage chains, hotels, and distributors. Part of the investment will go towards accelerating growth in Egypt. (TechCrunch)

Agtech startup funding

🇺🇸 CIBO Technologies raises $30 million Series C funding for carbon trading tools. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company indicated that the funds will be used to commercialize its monitoring, reporting, and verification tool for soil carbon. (AFN)

🇮🇳 WayCool raises $13 million in additional Series D funding. Founded in July 2015, the Chennai-based startup works with 1,500 smallholder farmers to help them sell 320 varieties of fresh produce, staples, and dairy products. (The Economic Times)

🇩🇪 BASF Venture Capital and Amathaon Capital invest in bioinformatics company Computomics. The latter makes predictive breeding technology for crops and can offer recommendations around accelerating the breeding process and which crops are suitable for future climates. (Food Business News)

🇳🇱 Carbon market Agreena raises a $4.7 million seed round. Giant Ventures and the Danish Green Future Fund led the round for the Dutch startup, which verifies and sells carbon credits from regenerative ag farmers. (TechCrunch)

🇸🇬 IndieBio graduate Vertical Oceans closes $3.5 million seed round. The Singapore-based company grows shrimp via an aquaculture system inside huge, building-like structures it calls “aqua towers” and says can be placed in the middle of cities. (TechCrunch)

🇮🇳 Produce platform Onato gets a $2.2 million round of seed funding. The India-based startup said it will use the funding — led by Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India to grow its B2B online platform for fresh fruits and veggies. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Bucha Bio gets funding for its next-gen bio-textiles. The NYC-based biomaterials startup has raised $550,000 to scale up production of its bio-textile product called Mirai. (AFN)

🇦🇺 Australia’s GrainCorp has invested in Hone. Hone makes a handheld testing kit suitable for grain, quality, soil carbon, and other inputs and outputs. GrainCrop said the technology could greatly help speed up the process of testing and analyzing quality on the farm. (World Grain)

🇳🇱 Avocet Holdings invests in reNature. The private investment fund will support Netherlands-based reNature, which helps local farmers and communities transition to regenerative agriculture and agroforestry systems. (reNature)

M&A, IPOs, and partnerships

🇺🇸 AeroFarms and Spring Valley terminate $1.2 billion SPAC deal. The US vertical farming startup and the special purpose acquisition company have “mutually agreed” to scrap a planned merger. AeroFarms CEO David Rosenberg said the deal was “not in the best interests of our shareholders.” (AFN)

🇸🇬 Dole and Singapore’s Economic Development Board partner on food waste valorization. The pair will set up a new entity, Dole Specialty Ingredients, to transform fruit sidestreams and unused fruit parts into high-value products such as enzymes, extracts, oils, and fibers. (Dole Sunshine Company)

🇳🇿 Cannabis company Greenfern to debut on New Zealand Exchange. The listing is expected to value the Taranaki-based business at NZ$21 million ($15.1 million). Founded in 2018, Greenfern makes hemp-based food and beauty products. It has posted net losses of more than NZ$1 million ($717,000) for the past two years. (Radio New Zealand)

Funds and accelerators

🇺🇸 Atlantic Food Labs is relaunching as FoodLabs and launching a fund. The longtime food and agribusiness investor has a €100 million food tech fund to invest in food, health and sustainability startups. The entity has previously invested in Choco, MushLabs, and InFarm, among others. (TechCrunch)

Other news

🇮🇱 Israel’s Redefine Meat hires Nestlé and Unilever executives. As part of its major global expansion plan, the alternative protein company has hired Nestlé’s Edwin Bark as senior vice president and general manager, EMEA. Unilever’s Adrian Sagman will join Redefine meat as director of global sales and business development. (Vegconomist)

It’s also planning on establishing a US plant. The Israel-based cultured meat startup says it plans to make its US market debut in one to two years, pending regulatory approval. A consumer study funded by the company says Americans are willing to try cultured meat. (Food Navigator)

🇺🇸 Tufts University gets $10 million to build a research center for cultured meat. The US Department of Agriculture will distribute the award over a five-year period to develop the Institute for Cellular Agriculture. This is the first federally funded institute at a US university that’s dedicated to R&D around cultured meat. (The Spoon)

🇺🇸 Omakase strawberries now available in Los Angeles. Oishii, which grows ultra-premium strawberries via vertical farming, has made its product available outside New York City for the first time. (Vertical Farm Daily)

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