Yield Lab announces launch of new €21m European AgTech Venture Capital Fund, backed by Enterprise Ireland
4th June 2019
- €10m investment from Enterprise Ireland and €4m from AIB
- Fund marks significant expansion after first two years of Yield Lab Europe
Yield Lab Europe has announced the launch of Yield Lab Europe Fund 1 LP, a new European AgTech venture capital fund which will invest in innovative early stage businesses in the area of agrifood technologies that have the potential to scale up internationally. The fund will include an Accelerator Fund which invests €100,000 into five companies each year, and a larger follow-on fund to lead rounds through to Series A for selected companies.
The fund’s €21m first close is backed by a €10m investment from Enterprise Ireland, €4m from AIB, and three leading private family offices. The fund will invest in companies that improve the sustainability of food production, helping to reduce the contribution of the sector to climate change and environmental pollution. It is planned to raise further capital for the fund over the next 12 months.
Yield Lab Europe has successfully run its AgTech Accelerator Programme over the past two years, through which it has invested in seven companies. Portfolio companies from Ireland include: Cork-based ApisProtect, whose technology helps commercial beekeepers protect the health of their honey bees; Meath-based insect farm Hexafly who uses black soldier flies to upcycle brewing waste into high value proteins, oils and natural fertilisers; Carlow-based Microgen Biotech, whose technology prevents the uptake of toxic heavy metals into plants and our food; and Cork-based MicroSynbiotiX, an animal health company developing a microalgae oral vaccine technology platform to reduce antibiotic usage and tackle disease in aquaculture.
Announcing the investment by Enterprise Ireland, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said: “Venture capital is essential for the growth and development of successful high potential Irish businesses and I am delighted to announce the creation of the European AgTech Fund by Yield Lab, to be based in Ireland. This fund is very important, marking a significant increase in the availability of capital for companies in the agri-tech sector. It advances our strategy, through Enterprise Ireland, of supporting the sustained growth and internationalisation of this vibrant sector and will help drive the commercialisation of new and innovative products from ambitious Irish companies.”
Speaking about the fund’s launch, Paul Finnerty, Chairman of Yield Lab Europe said: “The launch of this new fund is a testament to our success to date and the potential of this sector. It gives us the financial firepower to be a leading player in early stage investment in European AgTech. Over the past two years we have invested in and supported seven highly innovative start-ups that are building international businesses of scale. Never before has the need for innovative technologies, to improve the sustainability and efficiency of how food is produced, been so acutely needed. Large corporates globally depend on the start-up ecosystem to provide next generation solutions to critical problems facing the agriculture and food industries. AgTech is the sharp end of agrifood industry innovation.”
Welcoming the announcement, Kevin Sherry, Executive Director of Global Business Development at Enterprise Ireland said; “Ireland’s reputation as a hub for innovation in the agri sector continues to grow and I would like to congratulate Yield lab on this new fund, supported by Enterprise Ireland which will assist in providing the global ag sector with leading innovative, effective, scalable products and services. This fund will increase the availability of that essential early stage growth capital and address equity funding availability within the area of agri-food technologies, further driving Ireland’s reputation for quality and innovation in this important sector.”
Commenting on the new fund, Finlay McFadyen, Head of Investment Banking AIB said: “AIB are delighted to partner with Yield Lab in this fund which will support early stage companies who require investment in the specialist Agtech sector. The Fund demonstrates AIB’s support for the Agtech ecosystem in Ireland while strengthening the sustainable development of Irish agriculture and food production. Ireland, due to its unique blend of a progressive agri sector and vibrant tech community, is excellently placed to become the European leader in this area.”
The companies it has invested in and accelerated to date are from many sectors, including: Big Data and Precision Agriculture (ApisProtect, Sencrop); Alternative Proteins (Hexafly); Animal Health and Aquaculture (MicroSymbiotiX); Soil Health (Microgen Biotech); Supply Chain Technologies (Impact Vision) and Crop Protection (Rootwave),
Alongside Paul Finnerty, Yield Lab Europe’s founding partners are Nicky Deasy and Brian Clevinger. Nicky Deasy is the Managing Partner and runs the day to day operations.
Notes to Editors:
The seven companies backed by Yield Lab Europe to date are:
ApisProtect: ApisProtect has developed a Big Data solution to capture data on bees, which is retrofitted into hives and provide beekeepers with an early warning system and actionable insights into the health of their beehives. The technology builds on the PhD research at University College Cork of CEO Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy. www.apisprotect.com
Hexafly: Hexafly uses Black Solider Fly larvae to consume and convert low value waste into environmentally-friendly protein and nutritional oil products which can be used as a food source in the Aquafeed and Animal feed sector. With wild fish sources under threat from over-fishing and the supply of fish meal unable to meet the increasing demand from the fish farming sector, Hexafly’s proprietary bio-conversion technology provides a sustainable solution. www.hexafly.co
MicroSynbiotiX: Fish farming is a $40 billion industry globally, and each year an estimated $15 billion worth of stock are lost due to disease outbreaks. MicroSynbiotiX is developing an oral vaccine that can be used by the industry to prevent disease, to replace the costly hand held injections used to vaccinate individual fish that is currently used, as well as provide an alternative to the widespread use of antibiotics in aquaculture in certain parts of the world. www.microsynbiotix.com
Rootwave: Rootwave has developed unique electrical technology which electrocutes weeds, whilst being safe to use for humans and animals. Their tag line ‘Zaps weeds, zero chemicals’ captures the benefits of what this unique technology offers, which they are integrating into a range of farm machinery for weeding organic vegetables and fruits, as well as for amenity use. www.rootwave.com
Sencrop: Sencrop designs and manufacturers agricultural monitoring technology such as rain gauges, anemometers, and leaf wetness sensors to help producers to farm in a more precise, efficient, and eco-friendly way. Sencrop’s technology helps farmers to save time, improve yields and gather data more effectively to monitor their crops and provides early warnings of disease. www.sencrop.com
Microgen Biotech: Microgen Biotech has developed a unique range of biologicals based on healthy bacteria that restore the soil’s natural microbiome, improving yields and reducing the update of heavy metals into plants. This reduces toxic heavy metals in our foods when applied to crops by farmers during the growing season. It is also used for bioremediation on lands that were polluted with industrial waste, mining and hydrocarbons to decontaminate them and restore them to productive use. www.microgenbiotech.com/
Impact Vision: Impact Vision uses hyperspectral imaging and Big Data techniques to non-invasively check a wide range of food products for freshness, ripeness and quality. It can be used to identify the ripeness of avocados and berries, the freshness and shelf life of salad leaves, validate fish and meat species to tackle food fraud, and identify foreign objects such as plastic and paper in food production lines. This technology reduces food waste in the supply chain, as well as reducing food fraud and Improving quality. www.impactvi.com/
About Yield Lab Europe
Yield Lab Europe is headquartered in Ireland and ran its first investment programme in 2017. The Yield Lab Europe AgTech Accelerator programme offers successful applicants each receive a €100,000 investment, along with access to individual mentorship, participation in a six-month programme of thought leadership and high-profile events, and access to our global network of accelerators and experts. www.yieldlab.ie
About Enterprise Ireland
Enterprise Ireland is the Irish government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies internationally in order to grow exports and jobs. Enterprise Ireland works with entrepreneurs and businesses to help them to start-up, develop innovative products and services, and scale internationally. Enterprise Ireland facilitates access to international markets through its international office network, supports business strategy and management capability training and provides finance, investment and research expertise. For more information, go to www.enterprise-ireland.com.
AIB is a financial services group operating predominantly in the Republic of Ireland. AIB provide a comprehensive range of services to retail, business and corporate customers, and hold market-leading positions in key segments in the Republic of Ireland using the AIB, EBS and Haven brands. AIB also operates in Great Britain, as Allied Irish Bank (GB), and in Northern Ireland. AIB’s purpose, as a financial institution, is to back its customers to achieve their dreams and ambitions. For more information, go to www.aib.ie
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