Finistere Ventures, a California-based innovation capital firm and one of the pioneers in the rapidly growing agriculture technology (Agtech) sector, announced the first closing of its new $150M Agtech Fund, Finistere II. The Fund focuses on new technology solutions in food productivity, sustainability and nutrition to address the ever-decreasing agricultural land resources, climate change and changing population demographics.
Finistere is collaborating with Bayer CropScience, AVAC Ltd., and other partners to identify and invest in world-class technologies across early-to-growth stage companies in the Agtech space.
"We are excited by the promising technologies and companies in the Agtech space that need both capital and the strategic, technical, and operating expertise that we bring as partners and investors," said Finistere Ventures co-founder and Partner, Arama Kukutai. "We are delighted to now have an aligned group of financial investors and strategic partners that includes Bayer CropScience supporting our efforts."
Finistere, which began investing in Agtech in 2005, has seen a pattern of increasing investor interest including a more diverse set of entrepreneurs and significant opportunities in commercializing the pipeline of science and technology funded by public investment around the globe.
"The timing for a new Fund coincides with the new wave of innovation needed to create the next Green Revolution in agriculture," said Jerry Caulder, a leader in agricultural biotechnology and Chairman of Finistere Ventures. "By partnering with the expanding VC interest, we can build on the positive results we've had in this sector."
By investing in future technologies, Bayer CropScience aims to advance global food security.
"The world faces difficult challenges to its food security with 9 plus billion people to feed by 2050," said Dr. Adrian Percy, Head of Global Research and Development, Bayer CropScience AG.
"The investment with Finistere Ventures complements our vision for collaborating with others in delivering new innovation to growers to enhance yields necessary to provide access to safe and affordable food for this growing population and shifting tastes of consumers. As an innovation led company, we believe fresh approaches and technologies for our farmer community will be critical to meeting these challenges of tomorrow and look forward to seeing this effort come to fruition."
While the Fund is primarily focused on North American opportunities, the Finistere II Fund will invest in companies from 'global centers of excellence' in Agtech. A key feature of the firm is Finistere's international network of partners that include Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Israel, all recognized for their significant pipelines of Agtech related R&D, and as major agricultural producers in their own right.
"We are partnering with Finistere to not only grow financial returns but to help leverage the major R&D investments being made in Canadian universities and institutions that need connections to the talent and ecosystems in the U.S. to flourish," said Dr. Michael Raymont, Chief Executive Officer of the Calgary-based investment firm AVAC Ltd. Canada has a proven track record of pioneering new technologies in crop and food - Canola, for example, has grown to a crop that is planted in over 25 million acres in Canada alone.
Finistere is also expected to announce collaboration agreements this quarter in Israel, and is developing an Agtech pipeline strategy with support from research organizations in Australia and New Zealand.
Finistere will be operating from their established San Diego, Calif. office and a new office in Palo Alto, CA headed by its new partner Dr. Spencer Maughan, formerly a Vice President at Venrock. According to Maughan, "Silicon Valley has become a major hub for new Agtech companies, and a more diverse group of investors. With California as the leading agricultural state by value and the biggest concentration of venture investing in the world, the prospects for investment in Agtech are ideal."