More than 600 attendees at annual Global AgInvesting (GAI) flagship conference held in New York were privy to news from event participants Finistere, International Farming Corporation (IFC), AgFunder, Omnivore Partners and NCREIF.
In what is thought to be a first of its kind partnership, agtech and life sciences venture capital firm Finistere Ventures and institutional farmland owner and manager IFC announced the launch of agtech growth equity fund Willow Hill Ventures. Finistere partner, Arama Kukutai, who presented at GAI, explained that Willow Hill Ventures is a growth equity-focused vehicle that will capitalize on the diverse tools brought by Finistere and IFC. "The fund is connected with a widespread base of several million acres of farmland owned or influenced by IFC across 20 U.S. states, which will help serve as an on-farm innovation ecosystem to be used by the fund's portfolio companies," said Kukutai, when interviewed onsite by GAI News, Global AgInvesting's comprehensive news service. "We think based on the pipeline that we're seeing from early stage, and what the typical company needs, we think there's a several billion dollar funding gap."
Start-up funding platform AgFunder opened yesterday's GAI AgTech Investment Summit program with an insightful look at the state of the agtech industry and shared news of the forthcoming launch of their first fund.
Opportunity Fund 1 will capitalize on the company'sestablished relationships across the sector to target a $10 million to 20 million fund raise. Early stage investments will be made to 20-30 promising ag and food tech companies.
Also speaking at the AgTech Investment Summit, Mark Kahn, founding partner at India-based Omnivore Partners, highlighted agtech challenges and success stories. These lessons will be applied to Omnivore's Indian ag and food tech second Fund, expected to launch in the next few months. This Fund, said Kahn, would be unlike Fund 1 in that its capital will not be raised just from within India, but from both Indian and foreign investors, and with a larger target of $70 million. Just as with Fund 1, portfolio companies represented will be primarily agtech ventures, such as M.I.T.R.A and Retigence Technologies, but also include innovative food processing companies.
One of the other considerable announcements at this week's Global AgInvesting included the summer 2016 Australian edition release from the NCRIEF Farmland Property Index. "Recently NCREIF agreed to work with a group of Australian investment managers to produce for them a farmland property index comprised strictly of Australian properties," said Dan Dierking, chief information officer, of National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF). "This index will be first for Australia and serve as the foundation for measuring farmland investment performance. We are excited to build this index and ultimately contribute to the advancement of the farmland investment industry in Australia."