Tenacious Ventures, an Australian agrifood tech investor, closed its latest funding round earlier this month, raising a total of A$35m ($26.8m) in seed funding, including $20m from last year. The firm is said to be the country’s first specialist VC for agrifood tech.
The Australian federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Grok Venture both made significant commitments to the fund – worth around A$8m. Other investors include tech and agribusiness corporates, as well as high net worth individuals. The funding will be used to develop and support early-stage companies working to decarbonise the agricultural sector.
The funding marks a change in fortunes for the country’s agrifood industry, which has historically struggled to get adequate financial backing. In a statement, co-founder Sarah Nolet said;
“We saw through our advisory and ecosystem work that Australia has massive potential. We have globally recognized agriculture and agricultural research, but we lacked pathways for commercialization.”
“Over the last five years we’ve seen the ecosystem grow and produce world class startups, but many were struggling to attract funding- local investors didn’t understand the space or have the networks to diligence opportunities, and offshore investors were too far away” Nolet added.
It is an industry on the cusp of a boom, and according to Finistere Ventures’ 2020 AgriFood Tech Investment Review, total global investment in agrifood tech companies rose to $ 22.3bn in 2020, with expectations for 2021 to exceed this figure.
Tenacious seeks to fill the gap in Australia’s market and turn the tide of investor sentiment. So far, the VC has channeled $15m into six startups both within and outside of Australia ranging from plant-based meat alternatives, to autonomous farm equipment, to a blockchain-based carbon credit marketplace. All companies funded under Tenacious are chosen for their industry impact – those who work to create more sustainable supply chains and make the sector environmentally robust.
Tenacious has said the recent funding will be funnelled into another 15 or so companies, while it will also be continuing to develop its own deal pipeline, and working to build awareness of Australia’s agrifood tech industry more broadly.