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The Encounter Weekly

March 4th, 2021

Stay up to date with the most recent news, investments and partnerships regarding the Agrifood tech industry and sustainability.

IPOs, M&As & Investments:

AgDevCo, the specialist investor in early-stage African agribusinesses, announced a $90m package of new funding from the CDC Group, Norfund and DFC which will allow AgDevCo to continue to grow its investment activities in agriculture across Sub-Saharan Africa .

Fremont, California-based Weee, an online ethnic grocer focused on items that can be hard to find at local supermarkets, announced it secured $425 million in Series E financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round brings total funding to date for the 7-year-old company to more than $800 million.

Starship raises almost $100 million in a month. The maker of food delivery robots scored $42 million in Series B funding less than 30 days after its €50 million ($55 million) infusion from the European Investment Bank.

In Ovo, a Dutch AgTech scaleup announced that it has secured €34M in a Series B round of funding led by impact investor European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) and financing from ABN AMRO.

Tastewise secured another round of funding, this time $17 million in Series A funding. Disruptive led the round and joined existing investors PeakBridge and PICO Venture Partners. The latest funding round gives the company $21.5 million in total funding to date.

Stämm Biotech, founded in 2014, is developing a desktop-sized bioreactor that looks pretty different from the tanks, tubes and knobs traditionally seen in industrial or even benchtop bioreactors. The Buenos Aires-based company just announced a $17 million Series A round.

Flashfood just got a jolt of new funding. The app-based marketplace that connects shoppers with discounted food nearing its best-by date is flush with a new $12.3 million Series A investment that will help the company expand its presence in the United States.

Swedish biotech startup Mycorena, which makes a mycelium protein ingredient for meat alternatives, has raised a €24 million ($26.8 million) in what it says is the largest-ever Series A funding round for an alternative protein company from the Nordic countries.

UK’s precision fermentation startup Better Dairy has raised $22 million in Series A funding. The company is developing several aged and mature animal-free cheeses that it claims are molecularly identical to traditional dairy without using animals.

Y-Combinator alum Marketforce made history last week when it announced the close of a $40 million Series A round – one of the largest on record for Africa. Lagos, Nigeria-based V8 Capital Partners led the raise.

AgriAku, an online ag marketplace looking to democratize and streamline the crop input supply chain in Indonesia, has raised $6 million in pre-Series A funding.

Amsterdam-based agtech startup, which aims to accelerate access to fresh fruit and vegetables with AI-powered greenhouses, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $10M (approx €9M) in its Seed round of funding.

Nantes-based Lisaqua has now secured €4.9 million to launch France’s first land-based shrimp farm. The startup is developing permaquaculture – a healthier and more sustainable aquaculture.

Umami Meats, a Singapore-based food tech startup developing sustainable seafood that is developing cultivated, not-caught, has secured pre-seed funding of US$2.4 million.

Swedish natural food company, For Real! Foods, has raised SEK 9 million from multiple investors, including Paulig’s venture capital branch, Pinc.

Keen 4 Greens, which makes vegan meat products including nuggets and burgers has announced a €1.8 million seed in funding to pursue whole meat cuts made using fermented mycelium. The round was led by Berlin-based FoodLabs, with Ryan Bethencourt’s Sustainable Food Ventures and Shio Capital participating as well, amongst others.

Cult Food Science Corp has completed an early-stage investment in Africa’s first precision fermentation company producing alternative dairy. De Novo Dairy

Egyptian startup FreshSource, which says it is reinventing the agricultural supply chain, has closed a seven-figure US dollar seed funding round as it bids to become the largest fresh food distributor in the MENA region.

DoorDash has announced it will buy Bbot, a startup that makes order-and-pay software for restaurants and other hospitality venues.

Riviana Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Madrid, Spain-based Ebro Foods S.A., has agreed to acquire the assets of InHarvest, Inc. for approximately $48.75 million.

Cargill and Golden Growers Cooperative have reached an agreement on a joint venture in ProGold LLC, owner of a corn wet milling facility in Wahpeton, ND, and 510 acres of land on which the facility sits, the companies announced Feb. 24.

News & Trends:

Israel’s largest food manufacturer, Tnuva, announced this week it will establish new investment fund called Tnuva NEXT.

Unfold, a company that combines leading seed genetics with crop growing and agronomic expertise to advance the vertical farming industry, announced the launch of its Innovation Partner Program.

Egyptian food-delivery startup Elmenus secured an undisclosed investment from Uber-owned ride hailing and food-delivery platform Careem, which is headquartered in Dubai and operates in over 100 cities across 15 countries, including the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has destabilized European security and the global energy market — and now food could be next.

US consumers think grocery stores and chains can do much more to boost the sustainability of their supermarkets, according to a recent survey from software company Retail Insight.

Desmond Koney knew the fundraising journey for his startup was going to be tough. His company, Complete Farmer, operates an agribusiness marketplace for Ghana’s under-financed and under-resourced farmers. Financing for agrifood tech ventures like his is also scarce in Ghana, creating mutual scepticism between entrepreneurs and investors.

Alcohol giant Diageo has announced the launch of a regenerative agriculture pilot for Guinness on barley farms in Ireland. It is a part of the company's larger sustainability push, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, in which one of the goals is to start regenerative agriculture pilot programs in five different sourcing landscapes throughout the decade.

Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown opened his Thursday evening remarks on the company's latest earnings report, which showed negative growth and high net losses, with a question that many analysts may be asking about the sector.

A project to turn food waste from industry excess into profit has netted a US$7.4 million budget boost. Waste2Func has been awarded the grant to create a platform for converting mixed refuse into bioplastics and biosurfactants.

Key food commodity prices hit their highest point in nearly a decade as Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. The Chicago Board of Trade May wheat contract rose to its highest point since July 2012, CNBC reported, with corn hitting an eight-month high and the May soybean contract soaring to its highest point since September 2012.

Mycelium pioneer Bosque Foods (formerly Kinoko Labs) has unveiled its whole-cut mushroom-based meat alternatives for the first time in Europe during a private tasting at the ProVeg Incubator in Berlin. The sampled products included alt-pork filets in Vietnamese bao buns and alt-chicken filets.

Textured Vegetable Proteins (TVPs) have recently received a huge boost from growing demand in plant-based protein options for vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians,” reported FN Media Group in a press release on Thursday.

New research from the food waste campaigner claims to challenge the status quo of the way retailers sell fresh uncut fruit and vegetables, highlighting that it should change significantly in the future.

Betterland foods, a brand new Californian company from Think! Founder Liz Falsetto, has launched Betterland cow-free milk made using Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein. The product was developed using precision fermentation and the company claims it is “virtually indistinguishable” from conventional cow’s milk.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) Canada, in collaboration with Israeli NGO Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and with the support of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, have officially launched a call for applications for the “Climate Solutions Prize”


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