December 2019 saw a number of food and agricultural start-ups attract investment across the EMEA region.
In foodtech, Dutch lab-cultured meat producer Meatable closed a $10m and $2.21m seed round, with lead investors including Agronomics, BlueYard, and Eurostars.
Meatable’s aim is to “satisfy the world’s appetite for meat without harming people, animals or the planet”. It hopes to do this by commercialising lab-grown meat made from cow and pig cells. The process involves replicating the natural process of fat and muscle growth, and mixes these two elements together to produce meat.
“The difference is, while it takes a cow around three years to develop enough meat to be slaughtered, we can do the whole thing in three months,” noted the start-up.
Online food delivery service Manna was another to make headlines in December, when the Irish start-up attracted close to €3m in funding from Dynamo VC. Manna hopes to launch its drone-led food delivery service this year in both Europe and the US.
Turning to AgTech, Austrian start-up Geoprospectors closed an undisclosed seed round led by AgXtend. Geoprospectors provides soil sensors for the agricultural sector.
“With this investment, Geoprospectors and AgXtend continue their innovative approach by providing farmers with the latest precision technology that helps improve their productivity, efficiency and sustainability,” noted the start-up.
Other AgTech start-ups to have received recent funding include Israel-based Equinom, Kenyan start-up Farmshine, and Italian AgTech start-up xFarm.
Investment round-up: December 2019
Produces and supplies lab-cultured meat products
Agronomics, BlueYard, Eurostars
6 & 24 December
Leiden, the Netherlands
Develops and offers farm management solutions
TiVenture, United Ventures
Vittorio Veneto, Italy & Lugano, Switzerland
Online food delivery platform
Provider of soil sensors for agricultural sector
Online marketplace for agricultural products
Seed breeding using DNA sequencing data sets and genomic code
BASF, Fortissimo Capital, Roquette
Big bet #1: Equinom
Israeli Ag-tech start-up Equinom creates optimised seeds for the food industry using computerised breeding technology. The company aims to help manufacturers meet growing demand for plant-based products used as ingredients and clean label packed goods.
“We strategically crossbreed plants for targeted characteristics, often reintroducing important characteristics that have been inadvertently bred out of ordinary varieties – to produce crops with highly desirable traits,” explained Equinom CEO Gil Shalev.
“Our proprietary computer algorithm and big data meet crop yield, quality and trait objectives in a way that no other seed-breeding company has done before, which also cuts time to market by years.”
In December 2019, Equinom received funding for its Series B round. While the firm has not disclosed the figure, investors include BASF Venture Capital, Fortissimo Capital, and Roquette.
With this investment, BASF Venture Capital – which led the investment – is promoting BASF’s strategy of applying innovative solutions in agriculture, noted the Germany-based chemical company.
“This is our first investment in an Israeli company,” said BASF Venture Capital’s managing director Markus Solibieda. “Equinom’s technology is groundbreaking in the plant protein value chain and supports the rising trend towards meat alternatives.
“With this investment in Equinom, we are strongly boosting BASF’s strategy of optimising crops and promoting sustainability and healthy food to nourish the planet.”
Big bet #2: xFarm
December also saw Italian AgTech start-up xFarm close its €3m Series A funding round, which was led by Italy-based United Ventures and contributed to by Swiss fund TiVenture.
xFarm founder Matteo Vanotti said he was proud to have expanded the xFarm team with United Ventures and TiVenture. “The xFarm project was born to help farmers be more efficient through the use of technology and with this investment we aim to enrich our digital platform with new features and expand the number of farmers beyond those who have already chosen to use our service.”
Vanotti highlighted the growing interest in the digital transformation of agriculture – both in small and large companies. “This topic also affects the industries of the agro-food chain, which we help with analytical and traceability tools.”
The investment will allow xFarm to consolidate its presence in the Italian market as well as expand into international markets – focusing on Europe, South America and Africa. The funding will also be used to strengthen xFarm’s platform, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence and blockchain.
“With this investment we will be able to increase the size of our team, allocate more strength in the research and development of advances services and devices, always keeping free the basic features, all to perfect what until now has been just a taste of our idea of digitisation in agriculture,” noted the start-up.
Big bet #3: Manna
Irish start-up Manna, a food delivery platform, closed a $3,000,000 (€2,692,000) Series A funding round last month. Investment was led by US-based Dynamo VC.
The investment will help Manna start delivering takeaways by drone in both Europe and North America. The drones will fly at an altitude of 80 metres and at a speed of over 80kph. This makes delivering within a 2km radius – from restaurants and centralised kitchens to consumers’ homes – possible within less than three minutes.
“We are on the cusp of the fifth industrial revolution, powered by drones, and our intention with Manna is to make drone delivery as pervasive as running water,” noted the start-up’s founder and CEO Bobby Healy.
“We want to literally transform marketplaces, economies, and communities all over the world in a way that not just reduces our carbon footprint but saves lives and creates jobs while doing so.”