While still a niche corner of the overall venture capital industry, investment in AgriFood Tech startups has grown exponentially since 2012, reaching $17 billion in 2018, according to our research.
AgriFood Tech encompasses all foodtech and agtech startups operating across the food supply chain, aiming to make it healthier, more sustainable, transparent, agile, and able to respond more quickly to changing consumer demands.
In 2018, some 1,776 unique investors invested in 1,450 deals in the asset class from across the globe and that number grows every year. The majority of agrifood tech investors are generalist tech investors but there is also a growing number of dedicated funds focused on foodtech and agtech.
Below is a list of the 10 most active agrifood tech investors based on a tally of investments made in 2018.
Two of the most prolific accelerator investors across all VC sectors, Y Combinator and SOSV both made 28 agrifood tech investments in 2018. SOSV did so through its three related programs: San Francisco-based IndieBio, New York-based Food-X, and London-based RebelBio.
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Both accelerators follow a typical accelerator model by accepting a limited number of startups into each cohort, providing them with a certain amount of equity funding as well as programming, mentorship, network access and culminating in a final Demo Day to meet other investors.
2. S2G Ventures (agrifood-focused)
Chicago-based S2G Ventures is the most active agrifood-focused investor globally, currently investing out of its second fund, a $180 million vehicle focused across the whole supply chain, from farm-to-fork. Some of S2Gs high profile investments include Beyond Meat, Apeel, Benson Hill. In 2018 it made 20 agrifood tech investments in, more including non-tech CPG companies.
S2G is very thoughtful about their portfolio construction across the value chain with a view to enabling collaborations between startups. It invests at Seed stage to Series B.
3. Hatch (agrifood-focused)
The program invests €50k in cash into each company and can provide additional funding after the program. It also offers office space as well as typical accelerator programming and mentorship. It has offices in Singapore as well as Bergen, Norway.
4. 500 Startups
The San Francisco-based accelerator made 14 agrifood tech investments in 2018.
Since launching in 2011 as one of the first accelerator programs, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,200 companies across 74 countries, and 3,000 founders.
One of 500 Startup’s agrifood tech investments in 2018 was motorleaf.
5. AgFunder – yes that’s us! (agrifood-focused)
Four years in the making, we closed our first fund in 2017 and have grown to $10 million AUM through Co-Investment Funds that we open to new investors twice yearly. Like S2G we focus on high-velocity Seed to Series B investments across the value chain, favoring a larger portfolio and the network effects that this comes with. We invest globally with current check size ranging from $100k – $1M with a $500k sweet spot. In 2018, we made 11 investments with 19 investments in our overall portfolio today. Our pitch to founders is that we’re not here to run your company, but with over 60,000 members and subscribers, we’ll hustle to get you in front of our network to connect you with customers, partners and investors. And no need for a warm intro, to apply for investment apply here.
TechStars is another very well known and active accelerator program investing across industries. In 2018, it made 11 agrifood tech-focused investments.
7. Cultivian Sandbox (agrifood-focused)
The Chicago-based venture capital firm is one of the most experienced agtech investors out there, currently investing out of its third fund, which it just closed on $135 million with LPs including Archer Daniels Midland, Corteva Agriscience, water and energy business Ecolab, and animal health group Elanco.
The firm witnessed the birth and boom of agtech as an investment class, launching back in 2008 alongside just one other venture firm focused on the industry in Avrio Ventures (now Rio). Cultivian has also increasingly invested in food tech opportunities, in keeping with the overall trend for VCs to invest across the supply chain as startups increasingly operate across it.
Operating under the moniker DCVC, Data Collective is a team of seasoned VCs with over 50 tech execs and experts in its arsenal like CTOs, CIOs, Cheif Scientists, and principal engineers. It also has a bevy of academics from top institutions like Stanford and Berkeley. It primarily makes seed and Series A investments in deep tech startups while providing growth stage opportunities to its portfolio companies.
Last year, former Monsanto managing director John Hamer and former investment director Kiersten Stead joined the San Francisco-based VC’s newly launched biotech fund that hoped to capture $250 million for deployment.
9. The Yield Lab (agrifood-focused)
Launching in 2015 as one of the first agrifood-focused startup accelerators, The Yield Lab is headquartered out of St Louis, Missouri and has other programs in Latin America and Ireland. The program typically doles out $100k investments in six companies each year ahead of a 12-month program of mentorship, networking, office space, and more.
The Yield Lab is backed by Cultivation Capital and is led by Thad Simons, the former CEO of Novus International. It’s supported by a framework of agriculturally focused individuals, organizations, and businesses in the St. Louis area.
10. New Crop Capital (agrifood-focused)
Focused on backing plant and culture-based meat, egg, and dairy alternatives, New Crop Capital closed a $25 million fund back in 2016. It was an early investor in alternative protein company Beyond Meat, as well as Memphis Meats, plant-based meal delivery services Purple Carrot. It’s linked up with the Washington, DC-based non-profit The Good Food Institute, which focuses on extending the pipeline of scientists and entrepreneurs that want to innovate in the alternative meat space.
The firm has deployed $5 million per year since 2015 and plans to complete deployments by the end of next year.
Other investors in the top 20 include accelerators Innova Memphis and SVG Partners (9 each in 2018), Tiger Global Management from New York (9), Sprout X and Sparklabs Cultiv8 accelerators in Australia (8 each), Omnivore in India, Middleland Capital in Washington DC, and iSelect Fund in St Louis (all 7 each).