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The team at instant delivery startup Astro. Image credit: Astro

The Week in Agrifoodtech: Synthesis Capital closes $300m foodtech fund, e-grocer Astro bags $60m

June 2, 2022

Though many “instant” grocery delivery startups are in the midst of layoffs, one company in Indonesia bagged a healthy Series B round this week.

Elsewhere, US ag robotics specialist FarmWise teased a new weeding implement along with its latest fundraise; while London-based VC firm Synthesis Capital closed its first foodtech fund.

Foodtech funding

🇮🇩 Astro raises $60 million from lead investors Tiger Global and Accel. The Indonesian ‘quick commerce’ startup will use the Series B funds for new hires and expanding its grocery delivery services to new areas. (Tech in Asia

🇮🇱 Brevel announces $8.4 million seed round to build pilot facility for its microalgae-based protein. FoodHack, Good Startup VC, Tet Ventures, and Nevateam Ventures participated in the round along with the EU’s Horizon2020 and Israel’s Innovation Authority. (Protein Report)

🇺🇸 Joywell Foods bags $25 million Series B for its sweet proteins made via microbial fermentation. Piva Capital led the funding, which Joywell will use to release its sugar-alternative products to market. (Food Ingredients First

🇺🇸 Nutrition tech platform Sifter raises $5 million in Valor Siren Ventures-led round. Sifter plans to grow its “nutrition-as-a-service” platform and launch a solution for food retailers. (Grocery Dive

🇺🇸 Planet FWD closes $10 million Series A round to help CPG brands calculate and reduce their carbon footprints. Acre Venture Partners and Congruent Ventures co-led the round. Planet FWD will put the capital towards data platform development and new hires. (TechCrunch)

🇫🇮 General Catalyst leads €4.9 million ($5.2 million) round for virtual restaurant platform Huuva. The new funding will enable Huuva to expand its delivery-only restaurant business outside of Helsinki. (EU Startups

🇦🇺 Precision fermentation startup Eden Brew lands A$6.9 million ($4.95 million) from Main Sequence and others. It plans to scale its cow-free dairy business towards commercialization. (Australian Financial Review

🇫🇷 Seafood Reboot scores $3.2 million. The company will use the proceeds of its pre-seed round, led by Demeter Partners, for R&D around its plant-based seafood items made from microalgae. (The Fish Site)

🇮🇳🇺🇸 Xook raises $1.3 million to roll out robotic ‘food courts in a box’ in the US. The Xook Primus unmanned kiosk will be able to make various salads and meal bowls. SRI Capital, Pitchright Ventures, and Techstars were among the investors to take part in the pre-seed round. (The Spoon)

🇺🇸 Ingredients company Ingredion makes undisclosed investment in Solar Biotech. The funding will enable Solar Biotech to accelerate development of its cell-based biomanufacturing tech. (Solar Biotech)

Agtech funding

🇺🇸 Fall Line Capital and Middleland Capital co-lead $45 million Series B for FarmWise Labs. The ag automation startup makes weeding robot Titan. (AFN)

🇰🇪 Aquaculture startup Victory Farms raises $5 million in equity funding to expand its operations. Two angel investors, Bain Capital’s Ed Brakeman and Sealand Aquaculture’s Hans den Bieman, led the round. (AFN)

🇮🇳 Nutrifresh banks $5 million funding from angel investors for expansion and growth plans. The startup grows chemical-free produce using hydroponics technology and sells it to enterprise customers and end consumers. (The Economic Times)

🇬🇧 Modern Synthesis raises $4.1 million to grow textiles from microbes. The London-based startup’s “microbial weaving” process mimics the warp-and-weft technique of traditional weaving. (AFN) [disclosure: AFN‘s parent company AgFunder is an investor in Modern Synthesis.]

🇳🇿 Onside secures New Zealand government funding for biosecurity management app. The agritech startup will use the NZ$4 million ($2.6 million) funding to build out its data platform which predicts potential pathways for pests and diseases to enter the country’s rural economy. (Scoop)

🇧🇩 Online ag marketplace iFarmer nabs $2.1 million pre-Series A led by IDLC Venture Capital Fund. iFarmer links Bangladeshi smallholders and their suppliers with agronomic, logistical, and financial services and will use the funds to expand its footprint and build out its supply chain tech. (AFN)

🇮🇳 Ag fintech startup Dvara E-Dairy secures $2 million pre-Series A from Axilor and Dvara Venture Studio. The company’s tech platform aims to provide small-scale dairy farmers with access to financial and cattle management services. (VCCircle

Funds & accelerators

🇬🇧 Foodtech investor Synthesis Capital closes $300 million fund. This is the one-year-old firm’s first fund, which will target around 15 investments in total. (TechCrunch

🇺🇸 ReFED and Closed Loop Partners launch trio of funds to catalyze capital for food waste solutions. An $80 million fund will make debt and equity investments, while a separate $10 million philanthropic entity will provide grants. Another $10 million innovation fund will test ways to help consumers waste less. (ImpactAlpha)

Other news

🇺🇸 The votes are in on what to call cultivated meat. The US Department of Agriculture received 1,179 comments from food companies, trade groups, policy groups, state agricultural departments, and others on how to label and regulate the emerging industry. (Food Dive

🇳🇱 Future Crops transitions to 100% renewable energy. The vertical farming company is using solar and wind energy to power its farms and address the sector’s energy inefficiency problems. (Future Crops

🇬🇧🇮🇱🇺🇸 Unilever teams up with drone delivery service Flytrex. The CPG giant’s “virtual ice cream shop” lets select customers in North Carolina and Texas purchase ice cream products and receive their wares via drone in “under three minutes.” (Food Dive

🇺🇸 Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A is road-testing autonomous delivery in Texas. The QSR chain teamed up with robotics company Refraction AI to use the latter’s self-driving delivery vehicles at two locations in Austin. (Restaurant Dive)

🇬🇧 Researchers use CRISPR to boost vitamin D in tomatoes. The team at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK said gene-editing tomatoes to boost their provitamin D3 both fortifies the existing food and presents an opportunity for supplement production from waste material. (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

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