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The future of wine? Image credit: iStock

The Week in AgriFoodTech: Hardee Fresh grabs $56m, Upward Farms shuts down, Wine that tastes like climate change

April 6, 2023

Vertical farming saw good and bad news this week, as Hardee Fresh raised new funds, Upward Farms ceased operations and Kalera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Elsewhere, digital-first burger delivery service VICIO secured new capital to expand in Europe, and wine experts and climate scientists unveiled an experimental beverage we’d rather not taste.

Image credit: VICIO

Foodtech funding

🇸🇦 The Saudi Industrial Investment Group injects $70 million into Unibio International. Unibio will use the funds to grow its sustainable protein business. (Zawya)

🇪🇸 Digital-native burger brand VICIO grabs €17 million ($18.5 million). IRIS Ventures led the round with companies from Barlon Capital. (EU Startups)

🇺🇸 Pickup-only grocer JackBe picks up $11.5 million. The round comes as pickup-only stores and companies struggle to maintain consumers. (Grocery Dive)

🇩🇪 Magnotherm closes €5 million ($5.5 million) seed round to mass produce “sustainable” refrigerators. The round was led by Extantia Capital, BMH Beteiligungs and others. (Tech.eu)

🇺🇸 Aqua Cultured Foods reels in $5.5 million seed round led by Stray Dog Capital. The startup will expand its low-cost production platform for whole cuts of fungi-based seafood. (AFN)

🇺🇸 Flyby Robotics lands $4 million round led by MaC Venture Capital. The round will kickstart a drone delivery pilot program with foodservice brands. (Restaurant Dive)

🇮🇳 Biotech startup Zero Cow Factory raises $4 million seed round to make animal-free casein at scale. Green Frontier Capital, GVFL and pi Ventures led the round. (Vegconomist)

🇨🇭 Impossible Materials secures SFr3.4 million ($3.8 million) seed round commercialize titanium dioxide replacement. Mission Possible Capital led the round. (AFN)

🇫🇷 🇮🇱 Danone invests $2 million into cultured breastmilk startup Wilk. The investment, part of a $3.5 million fundraise, gives Danone a 2% stake in Wilk. (Green Queen)

Image credit: Hardee Fresh

Agtech funding

🇺🇸 Hardee Fresh secures $56 million to build and run a 340,000 square-foot vertical farm. X-Caliber Rural Capital led the bridge round. (Vertical Farm Daily)

🇳🇿 Halter raises NZD 85 million $53.3 million for solar-powered livestock management. Bessemer Venture Partners led the Series C round with participation from Blackbird Ventures and others. (AVCJ)

🇺🇸 Babylon Micro-Farms bags $8 million in Series A for its remotely-managed vertical farming technology. Venture South led the round with participation from Virginia Venture Partners and others. (AFN)

🇮🇩 Fresh Factory raises $4.1 million to address cold chain logistics. SBI Ven Capital led the round through its joint fund with Kyobo Securities and NTUitive. (Tech in Asia)

🇬🇧 Pastoral raises £205,000 ($255,000) pre-seed round for precision livestock management. SFC Capital led the round, which Pastoral will use to expand in North America and elsewhere. (UKTN)

🇨🇭 Produce-tech startup Agrinorm secures 7-digit funding. QBIT Capital led the round, supported by the renowned Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC). (Fresh Plaza)

Funds, grants & accelerators

🇺🇸 S2G Ventures has closed a $300 million Special Opportunities fund. The fund will provide flexible financing for capital-intensive, asset-oriented industries including agriculture, energy and oceans. (AFN)

🇲🇦 VC firm Bidra Innovation Ventures scoops up $200m to back sustainable agriculture and energy startups. Investment and support comes from Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) and the OCP Group. (AFN)

The future of wine? Image credit: iStock

Other news

🇺🇸 Upward Farms shutters vertical farm after 10 years. “We found that vertical farming is almost infinitely complex – as we tackled challenges, new ones emerged,” the company said in a statement. (Just Food)

🇺🇸 Eat Just launches “Brunch for Everyone” initiative in Tennessee. These drag brunches will raise funds to help the LGBTQ+ community fight recent legislation trying to ban drag in public. (VegNews)

🇺🇸 Online food retailer Boxed files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company will wind down its retail operations over the next several weeks. (Grocery Dive)

🇫🇷 Wine experts and climate scientists develop “experimental” wine to underscore climate change’s impact. Bordeaux 2050 is “dense, less refined, less elegant, with a dry and tannic finish.” (Green Nudges)

🌍 Trophic rewilding can expand natural climate solutions, says new report. The research calls the restoration of wild animals and their ecosystems key component for fighting climate change. (Nature Climate Change)

🇻🇺 Vanuatu wins big climate victory. The tiny island nation convinced the UN to urge the world’s highest court to rule on whether polluting nations must address climate change. (Grist)

🇦🇺 Meal delivery marketplace CoLab, formerly ChefPrep, enters administration. Administrators at EY said they’ll take the startup through the sales process. (Startup Daily)

🇺🇸 Kalera files for Chapter 11 protection. The company, which also fired its CEO Jim Leighton, will operate its business as “debtor-in-possession.” (Vertical Farm Daily)

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