The Encounter Weekly: 25- 30, July 2021

Stay up to date with the most recent new investments, M&As as well as the rise of new trends and news in the Ag & FoodTech industry.




IPOs, M&As & Investments:


Agtech company AppHarvest has secured a $91m financing arrangement with sustainably-focused investment firm Equilibrium Capital to fuel the future construction of 12 high-tech indoor farms by 2025.

Colvin, a tech platform serving the floriculture industry, has raised €45 million ($53.1 million) in a Series C round led by private equity firm Eurazeo with participation from agrifood-focused VC Capagro, both of which are based in Paris.

Singapore-based Augmentus, the ‘no-code’ robotics platform, has just raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from early-stage VC firm Cocoon Capital. It said it will use the funds to support a full commercial launch of its software, and to hire personnel to build out its software development, business development, and partnerships functions.


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NotCo, a food technology company making plant-based milk and meat replacements, wrapped up another funding round this year, a $235 million Series D round that gives it a $1.5 billion valuation.


Nobell Foods raises $75M to introduce delicious cheeses made from plant-derived dairy proteins, supporting its larger mission of creating a radically more humane and sustainable food system.

New York-based Actual Veggies, which offers a line of chef crafted, colorful veggie burgers, has just closed a $2.8 million financing round after experiencing high e-commerce growth, and it plans to expand across U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers in 2021. This round is led by Electric Feel Venture’s founder Austin Rosen, Kieran Gibbs, Big Idea Ventures and Rose Street Capital.

NovoNutrients, a company that creates protein from CO2 inputs, announced a $4.7 million fundraise to complete its industrial pilot program that will capture CO2 emissions from from oil, gas, and cement-related plants. This is one of a few companies now developing novel protein from CO2, hydrogen, and other air inputs. Others include Air Protein, Solar Foods, and Deep Branch

ByHeart, the baby nutrition company founded by Ron Belldegrun and Mia Funt, announced Monday it has secured $90M in series B funding, following their $70M series A in April 2020. This coincides with the completion of the brand's 311 baby, multicenter clinical trial - the largest conducted by a new US infant formula brand in over 25 years - successfully meeting all of its endpoints.


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Single-serve coffee machine company Spinn has reached a $20 million funding round led by Silicon Valley tech startup investment specialist Spark Capital. Spinn, which offers an associated coffee marketplace that features hundreds of United States roasting companies, said the investment will be used to accelerate growth and to fulfill pre-orders for Spinn machines.

Toronto-based startup Notch has secured $12.5 million CAD ($10 million USD) in funding, as the startup looks to expand its recently revamped restaurant supply chain offering to new markets.

HappyFresh, the on-demand grocery app based in Indonesia, announced today it has raised a $65 million Series D. The round was led by Naver Financial Corporation and Gafina B.V., with participation from STIC, LB and Mirae Asset Indonesia and Singapore.

ConverseNow, which makes an AI ordering assistant for restaurants, raised a $15 million Series A round of funding. It was led by Craft Ventures with participation from existing investors including LiveOak Venture Partners, Tensility Venture Partners, Knoll Ventures, Bala Investments, 2048 Ventures and Bridge Investments. This brings the total amount of funding raised by ConverseNow to $18.3 million.


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To make inroads into China’s fast growing alternative food market, South Korea’s SK Group joined Chinese food service company Joyvio Group to form a fund worth 100 billion won ($86.7 million). The envisioned Sustainable Food & Consumption Fund will invest in promising food tech companies that specialize in plant-based meat, fermentation and vertical farming.

Ag-food giant ADM plans to acquire Serbian high value soy supplier Sojaprotein - the largest producer of non GMO plant-based proteins in Southern Europe - to expand its production capacity and customer base, and accelerate the growth of its alternative protein platform.




News & Trends:


Generation Z-ers from across Europe have called for radical change from the food sector, demanding that how they access, consume and learn about healthy food should be overhauled.

Unilever has revealed it will be piloting carbon labels on a select number of products this year in the U.S. and Europe. It comes ahead of its plan to label all 75,000 of its products globally, a pledge the CPG giant made last year. Unilever is also floating the idea of climate-friendly aisles in grocery stores to nudge consumers in the sustainable direction.

Food delivery platforms in China will be required to guarantee riders' income above minimum pay, insurance and a relaxation in deadlines for deliveries, under reforms announced on Monday by the country's market regulator.

Research by product metadata platform Label Insight has analysed searches for alt-meat products across major retailers in the month of June. The research found that in this period, there were 44,000 Amazon searches for meat alternatives.

Redefine Meat is on track for a commercial launch of its New-Meat plant-based products in its home market of Israel. In Q4 of this year, the company will roll out its premium 170 g hamburger, sausage, lamb kebab, Middle Eastern “cigar” and a ground beef alternative to Europe, with US and Asia launches expected to follow in 2022.

Enko, the crop health company, announced details on its partnership with Bayer to develop diverse chemistries for crop protection. Applying drug discovery approaches from pharma to crop protection will allow the companies to identify unexpected product candidates that safely target pests in new ways.

Creating sustainable and equitable food systems that benefit the world’s most vulnerable people will require substantial investments – by some estimates as much as US$350 billion per year over the next decade. Public Development Banks (PDBs) have the potential to help finance this, and generate exponential social and economic returns, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) who announced Wednesday the formation of a coalition of partners to turn that potential into action.

Bangladesh has attained self-sufficiency in food production, but a significant majority of the population suffers from deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and folic acid. These deficiencies in micronutrients have detrimental impacts on the cognitive development of children, physical growth and contributes towards maternal and child mortality. These are occurring despite sufficient production of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. Such challenges might seem overwhelming however there were several startups which have tried to tackle them, such as: Jackfruit365, Ghost Kitchen Bangladesh, Inspira enterprise, Green Grain, iPage and Dr Recycle.

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kernel Mycofoods is on a mission to bridge the price gap between meat substitute foods and meat delivering sustainable, healthy, plant-based protein at an affordable price for people around the world. “We started looking at how we could make a product that was comparable without a price that will exclude the emerging markets,” Kernel CFO Miguel Neumann told me last week by video chat.

An increasing number of stakeholders in the world’s food system — including companies, non-profits, farmers and governments — are backing a growing number of new sustainability metrics and rankings. This trend is being driven by a view that benchmarks and index rankings can raise awareness of sustainability factors, while also helping to guide banks, investors and those in the supply chain to engage with food systems that will not damage the planet.



Innovation Labs, Accelerator Programs & Awards:


This month German science and technology company Merck announced the winners of its 2021 Future Insight Prize. The € 1 million prize in the category of ‘Food Generation’ was awarded to Stephen Techtmann, of Michigan Technological University and to Ting Lu at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for their project ‘From Waste to Food: A Generator of Future Food’. The researchers’ project uses microbes to first degrade plastic waste and then produce edible protein from that degraded waste.


IndieBio recently welcomed a bunch of new companies for its 11th cohort, and six of them in particular have caught our eye. These startups’ solutions range across industries, from transport to food and even sustainable beauty. The startups are the following: Lypid, a San Francisco food tech that makes vegan fat, Capra Biosciences a startup which makes zero-emissions engine lubricants, Aja Labs, makes “superhuman hair” to fight plastic pollution and waste associated with conventional hair extensions, Avalo.ai, breeding climate-resilient crops, Sundial Foods, a food tech making clean label vegan meat and California Cultured which produces sustainable and ethical chocolate alternatives directly from plant stem cells.