At F&A Next, Anterra Capital announced the closing of its second Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund at $260 million. The new fund was oversubscribed thanks to robust institutional demand. According to Anterra. the pandemic and food price inflation has fueled investor interest to accelerate transformation of the Food and Ag sector.
“Mainstream investors finally turned the corner and now see the urgent need to speed up the transformation of the food and ag sector. It’s also a vote of confidence in Anterra’s belief that biotech and digital solutions are the key technologies to make that transformation happen,” says Adam Anders, managing partner of the international food and agriculture specialist venture capital firm Anterra Capital (“Anterra”), and founding partner of F&A Next.
Anders: “The pandemic highlighted the fragility and adverse health impacts of our current food system: soaring prices, empty shelves in stores; the fact that unhealthy diets are a major risk factor for getting Covid; that the way we treat farm animals could trigger the next pandemic. Post our final closing, the devastating impact of the Ukraine War on the global food supply has increased the awareness among investors even further. This, plus our focus on deploying proven biotech and digital solutions to shake up the lagging Food and Ag-sector, go a long way in explaining the higher than expected interest in our second fund.”
Anterra is proud to announce the closing of its second fund, with commitments in excess of $260 million. The new fund welcomes an international influx of investors, ranging from pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to family offices and tech entrepreneurs from other sectors. All investors from Anterra’s first fund returned in Fund II, led by Rabo Investments and Eight Roads Ventures. “Investors now realize they can help build a resilient and regenerative food system and make excellent returns at the same time,” Anders said.
Anders: ”A new crop of mainstream investors is ready to get involved. Many already believed that the advances of the Green Revolution came at a hefty price. It gave us cheap fertilizer and powerful pesticides for growing plants; and growth hormones and antibiotics in animal production. But its obsession with yield is also destroying ecosystems and our own health. The pandemic gave the final push. Investors realize they can help build a resilient and regenerative food system and make excellent returns at the same time.”
One other unexpected outcome of the pandemic is that it has changed the outlook for using biotech in food and ag. Traditionally, this has been met with substantial public resistance. But since the roll-out of mRNA vaccines, billions of people have witnessed the positive power of biotech firsthand.
Anders: “Growing public acceptance of biotech solutions and gene-editing thanks to mRNA-vaccines, is an important shift. Biotech advances will also play a critical role in making food and agriculture more resilient and less carbon intensive; from fighting and preventing infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans; to developing more sustainable crop health solutions.”
Anterra believes that biotech and digital solutions are the two key technologies that will transform the food and agricultural sector. Through this technological lens Anterra seeks out entrepreneurs across the value-chain, ranging from ag fintech, crop science and animal health to human nutrition and consumer tech. Where it feels opportunities are being missed, Anterra also incubates companies itself: since 2018, Anterra has built five successful start-ups from scratch. At the same time, technology does not have to be cutting-edge to make its mark in the sector.
Anders: “Technology-wise food and ag lags 20 years behind sectors like human health and banking, so you don’t necessarily need the latest, cutting edge technology to transform it. Our incubated companies focus on deploying biotech and digital solutions that are established elsewhere, but are new to food and ag. I can confidently say we are unique in that approach. It’s an advantage of operating in a slow-moving sector: you can innovate in a slightly de-risked way.”
Executing this strategy, Anterra has built a diverse portfolio of innovators, ranging from entrepreneurs developing the next generation of targeted pesticides with low environmental impact, like Enko and Vestaron; startups improving animal and human health, like Invetx, Animol and Caribou Biosciences (co-founded by Nobel-prize winner Jennifer Doudna); companies empowering farmers with field data, access to finance, transparent pricing and direct distribution channels, like ProducePay and Agriconomie; and consumer tech-driven businesses transforming how we choose, buy and think about food, like LaFourche and Lollipop.
Anders: “With our new fund we will continue our mission: we will use a strict technological lens to seek out entrepreneurs across the food value-chain, ranging from ag fintech, crop science and animal health to nutrition and consumer tech. We will keep trying to apply technologies that have been successfully deployed in other sectors to food and agriculture. And if we feel opportunities are missed, we will keep incubating companies from scratch. We look forward to supporting the next generation of great entrepreneurs and building a better food system”.