Wageningen University & Research and impact investor Pymwymic are to collaborate in the domain of sustainable food systems. The partnership aims to support innovative ideas and technologies. This cooperation forms the cornerstone of Pymwymic’s Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II, which is currently being launched and working with WUR to source and analyze potential launching investments.
Throughout the world, there is a visible shift in agricultural production, the way our food is processed and transported, and in our diets. This is the result of climate change, sustainability, living and working conditions for farmers and other businesses involved in our food system, and the desire to provide sufficient food for all. Moreover, there is an increasing focus on healthy food.
In addition to farmers, small businesses and corporates, governments, consumers and researchers, startups are highly relevant in this transition. They face the challenge of implementing novel solutions in a complex sector. This is why an investment fund is needed with a long-term perspective that understands the challenges these startups face and supports them in their development.
However, merely providing money is not a solution. Thus, the expertise of Wageningen University & Research scientists is indispensable. They know, like no others, what innovations in a particular domain may influence a possible gamechanger in another domain. This interdisciplinary approach is one of the reasons Wageningen scientists are highly acclaimed in the international world of research.
Sustainable food systems
Ivo Demmers is the program manager at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). He supervises an interdisciplinary team of researchers involved in studying how we may transform our current food system into a more sustainable alternative. Demmers feels that investors such as Pymwymic are instrumental in helping startups reach their next development stage. ‘My role within WUR is to build partnerships and to bridge the gap between the experts and scientists that work with us and the outside world.
By getting Pymwymic on board, we are able to add a new perspective – that of the impact investor – to the organizations we already collaborate with, such as corporates, development banks and international research institutes. All these parties are valuable. The way Pymwymic operates is complementary to WUR. Pymwymic is pioneering in this respect, so we knew it would be an excellent party with which to collaborate.’
With the closing of the Healthy Ecosystems Impact Fund I, Pymwymic announces its next fund specifically focused on driving the food system transition. The Pymwymic Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II invests in innovative ‘impact companies’ and will have a size of approximately €60 million.
Current investments of Pymwymic include InspiraFarms (refrigerated containers for small farmers mainly in developing countries), Trapview (smart system to monitor insects in the fields), Ceradis (develops nature-friendly fungicides), Rootwave (electric weed control), Naïo technologies (self-driving field robots), Connecterra (‘fitbit’ for cows), Yooji (baby food without artificial additives) and Augmenta (real-time crop analysis on tractors).
“Companies and shareholders invite us to come on board as a shareholder to safeguard and embed the positive impact being pursued into the daily operations of the company.“ Rogier Pieterse, Managing Director Pymwymic
Pymwymic’s investment approach draws on deep sector expertise from WUR and is founded on the academic framework “The Food System Approach“. With nearly three decades of experience investing in impactful companies, ensuring the positive “impact” of a company is characteristic of Pymwymic’s approach and role. As a shareholder, it plays an active role in embedding impact in a company’s governance, developing and impact strategy, and measuring and managing impact goals.
Shaping the collaboration
The partnership brings together two organizations with a rich history – Pymwymic as one of the oldest impact investors in Europe, and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) having over 100 years’ research expertise making them the largest innovation hub of agricultural technology in the world.
As part of the collaboration, WUR experts will join the Pymwymic Investment Committee and Impact Committee. Moreover, Pymwymic collaborates with StartLife, the international agrifoodtech accelerator co-founded by WUR in 2010. StartLife also holds responsibility for the annual F&A Next summit, where startups, investors, and corporates meet and learn from each other.
The parties will not enter into an overarching partnership but focus on Pymwymic’s new fund Healthy Food Systems Impact Fund II.