Europe's largest aquaponic farming startup, The Circle, has successfully raised €2.1 million in its most recent funding round, led by impact investment venture capital fund Opes Italia. Sparviero Holding also participated as a minority investor.
Purpose of the Investment
This new investment follows a previous round of €1.5 million, funded through the Smart & Start Italy program by Invitalia, bringing the startup’s total capital to €3.6 million. The Circle aims to direct the latest capital infusion towards constructing two state-of-the-art aquaponic facilities designed to produce salad and aromatic herbs targeted at the restaurant industry. One facility will be based in Rome and the other in Milan.
In addition to extending its production footprint, The Circle intends to amplify its line of processed products. The new facilities are part of a broader strategy that includes the creation of Italy's inaugural biomimetic transformation center in Abruzzo, dedicated to producing value-added aquaponic products such as pesto, oils, and flavored salts.
Valerio Ciotola, Co-founder and CEO of The Circle, emphasized the company’s mission to innovate the agriculture sector. “Our investments will not only increase our aquaponic output but will also catalyze advancements in both cultivation and processing technologies. This enables us to further our commitment to address the global challenges of water and soil efficiency in food production,” said Ciotola.
The investment garnered praise from Elena Casolari, Partner and CEO of Opes Italia. "We are delighted to back The Circle's pioneering efforts in sustainable food production, which aligns with our ethos of resource efficiency, particularly in water and soil management," she remarked.
Founded in 2017 by a team of young entrepreneurs including biotechnologists Valerio Ciotola, Simone Cofini, Lorenzo Garreffa, and marketer Thomas Marino, The Circle has consistently grown over its six-year tenure. The company blends aquaponics, soilless cultivation, and fish farming technologies to drastically reduce water and soil waste in agriculture. It already commands an impressive clientele, supplying fresh produce to over 200 restaurants across Italy, including notable names like Il Pagliaccio and Acquolina. Thomas Marino, Co-founder and CMO of The Circle, noted the new funding will enable them to further consolidate their market presence in Italy and prepare for international expansion within the next 18-24 months.
The Circle's recent €2.1 million funding is a considerable boost for the company’s expansion and technological innovation aims. However, the success of these endeavors will depend on several factors, including market reception, effective utilization of funds, and the company's ability to adapt to emerging challenges. As it stands, the investment marks a critical point in The Circle’s trajectory, holding promise for both the company and the wider agri-food industry's sustainable development.