With the recent launch of the 40m Finistere Aotearoa Venture Capital Fund, the landscape of agritech capital options has changed significantly. In combination with other funds such as the Pacific Channel Elevate fund in New Zealand and Tenacious Ventures in Australia, there are multiple options for innovators in the region. Arguably, the continuum of investment from angel/seed to growth capital is more complete than it has ever been for agritech businesses.
In that context, we take the time to ask investors what ‘investability’ looks like for agritech and ask agritech business leaders to share their capital journey stories and insights.
– Opportunity for AgriTechNZ and AusAgritech member companies and others to come together and hear from both agritech investors and near peers who have raised capital for their agritech businesses
– Raise awareness on the range of investment approaches open to agritech businesses
– Share thoughts on the agritech investment experience from business leaders who have lived it
– Create a forum for networking and intelligent discussion with industry peers
Matthew Pryor, Co-Founder, Tenacious Ventures
Matthew Pryor is co-founder of Tenacious Ventures and a Partner at AgThentic. He was previously co-founder of Observant, an Australian agtech pioneer acquired by Jain in February 2017. He was the founding chair of Rocket Seeder, a food & ag innovation accelerator, and is passionate about promoting Australian agri-food innovation globally. Tenacious Ventures is Australia’s first and only dedicated agrifood tech VC firm.
Dean Tilyard, Venture Partner, Finistere Ventures
Dean is the Venture Partner for Finistere Ventures in New Zealand, where he specializes in seed-stage agtech companies. Additionally, Dean is Chief Executive of The Factory and Executive Director at Sprout Agritech, a New Zealand start-up advisory and accelerator. He has experience with multiple start-ups and technologies and is a founding member of the New Zealand Angel Association where he received the Association’s inaugural Kotahitanga Award. Dean has founded an angel investor network and two seed investment funds. He has a BA(Hons) in Economics and Geography from Otago University. Finistere Ventures and New Zealand Growth Capital Partners have recently launched a $40M NZD Agrifood technology fund focused on sustainability and nutrition innovations.
Maria Jose Alvaez, Investment Manager at New Zealand Growth Capital Partners
Before joining NZGCP, MJ worked as a Commercialisation Manager for the Inventors Fund at Auckland UniServices, investing in early-stage deep-tech and start-up companies that originated from the University of Auckland. In 2012, and while undertaking her undergraduate degree as a Biotechnology Engineer at Universidad Andres Bello in Chile, MJ co-founded and operated VidAoX, a deep-tech start-up focused on the Agritech sector. Maria Jose is an Independent Committee member at StartUp Science, the Seed Accelerator and Investment arm of the Chilean Ministry of Science, which focuses on providing funding and support for deep-tech ventures. She is also a founding member of the Momentum Investment Committee, a national organisation that provides advice and access to funding for young entrepreneurs. MJ is a part of the AgriTech & Food Investment Committee at Return On Science, and mentors early-career women in STEM that are transitioning into Industry, as well as young entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP) is a venture capital fund established by the New Zealand Government to stimulate investment into early-stage Kiwi tech companies with high-growth potential.
Eleshea D’Souza , Corporate Development Manager at LIC
As a qualified Chartered Accountant and enrolled Barrister and Solicitor with experience in marketing, sales, strategy and finance, Eleshea has developed opportunities in the European, New Zealand and ASEAN regions, with a focus on strategising and executing new business ideas. Previously Eleshea held marketing and business development roles at Landcorp/Pamu and Fonterra. Eleshea was behind the launch of the LIC AgCelerator Fund, which invests in early-stage dairy agritech start ups globally to support strategic innovations in the industry. Eleshea is also the Founder and Director of the Art In Bloom Academy, an art entertainment business with the goal of turning every home in Auckland into an art gallery.
Blair Harrison, NZ Manager, Australian Securities Exchange
Blair Harrison is the first representative of the ASX in New Zealand. Blair, who is a lawyer by training, has worked for the ASX since 2013, returning home to New Zealand in 2019 to open the ASX, New Zealand office. Blair hails from New Zealand but has worked in Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom over his career which includes a stint as a solicitor with global asset manager JP Morgan in London. ASX is the global leader in A$ and NZ$ financial markets, one of the top 10 securities exchanges in the world, the region’s leading technology securities exchange, and the largest interest rate derivatives market in Asia. ASX has trading hubs in many of the world’s major financial centres, attracting company listings from all around the globe – including New Zealand where it has now become the biggest marketplace in the world for New Zealand IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), capital raises and turnover.
Brent Ogilvie co-founder and Managing Director of Pacific Channel
Brent S. Ogilvie is the Managing Director of Pacific Channel, New Zealand’s leading venture creation, development and investment firm focused on early-stage health, clean-tech and ag-tech innovation. Mr Ogilvie was the founding investor director of Engender Technologies, which developed a proprietary process to separate X (female) and Y (male) bearing bull sperm cells to enable cattle farmers to choose the sex of offspring. Mr Ogilvie co-founded Engender and led it from foundation to its successful sale to a global dairy genetics company generating a significant capital return for its scientists, Auckland UniServices, Pacific Channel and its co-investors. Mr. Ogilvie was also co-founder, founding CEO and Director of Somnaceutics, which developed a sleep enhancement tonic, which was sold to NIG: Mr. Ogilvie was also Director of Ecodiesel, a biodiesel technology company that sold its business assets to Z Energy. Prior to founding Pacific Channel, Brent was New Zealand Consul & Trade Commissioner to New York. Pacific Channel is an early-stage investment and development firm focused on building successful deep-tech ventures from New Zealand. Brent manages the $55m Pacific Channel Fund II, an early-stage venture investment fund focussed on life sciences, cleantech, agritech, future foods and advanced engineering and manufacturing innovation in New Zealand.
Hugh Robertson Jnr, Director – Equity Capital Markets at Bell Potter Securities
Hugh has worked with clients and large international organisations in the financial services, technology, fast moving consumable goods and agricultural industries. He has extensive experience in the areas of business development, strategic planning, commodity risk management, financial management and corporate finance. Hugh’s areas of interest include a focus on small cap industrial stocks. Bell Potter Securities is a leading Australian stockbroking, investment and financial advisory firm that provides a comprehensive offering of financial services to individuals, institutions and corporations.
Steve Saunders, CEO – Founder at Robotics Plus Ltd
During the early days of GroPlus, the first of the Plus Group companies, Steve Saunders had a vision of sustainability – decades before this concept became mainstream. Steve recognised the underlying need to adopt best practices that would ensure efficiency in the horticulture industry, yet at the heart of all decisions was the deep desire to look after the growers. From that understanding, Robotics Plus emerged to solve the growing challenges in the global primary industries such as: labour shortages, sustainability for growers, pollination gaps and yield security. Steve’s vision and industry knowledge has forged the relationships that drive the development of technology and capability with a focus on automated systems for horticulture to address the growing challenges in the industry. Steve is also a Director of PlantTech Research Institute, Miro Ltd, WNT Ventures, Plus Group Horticulture Limited, Pollen Plus Ltd, Grow Plus Ltd and Mount Pack and Cool Ltd.
Bridgit Hawkins, Chief Sustainability Officer at CropX Technologies
Raised on a Reporoa sheep and beef farm, Bridgit gained a Masters Degree in Agricultural Science from Massey University before focusing on transforming science into a product or service that adds value. Bridgit built Regen, a leading provider of cloud-based, precision effluent and irrigation decision support tools, as CEO and Director. In 2020, CropX, a global soil sensing and agricultural analytics leader, acquired Regen and Bridgit took up the role of Chief Science Officer. CropX deliver the most advanced in-soil data analytics, decision support tools and data-driven irrigation prescriptions to growers as a global in-soil IoT leader.
Greg Jarvis, CEO Bluelab Corporation
Greg Jarvis was working as a regional manager in Tauranga in 2000 for Ballance Agri-Nutrients, then known as BOP Fertiliser, when he decided it was time to strike out on his own. Mr Jarvis bought a Tauranga company called NZ Hydroponics, restructured it, renamed it Bluelab, and has since turned it into a New Zealand success story with 98 per cent of the company’s output going to export markets. Bluelab design, develop and market a range of electronic meters, monitors and controllers to enable growers to accurately measure and control parameters such as pH, conductivity and temperature in water-based solutions through each growing phase.
Timothy Allan, CEO and Managing Director of UBCO
Timothy has over 20 years of experience as an innovation and R&D Leader. Prior to leading UBCO, he established his own product development company Locus Research and led it for 15 years. Timothy has operated across diverse industries from sporting and equipment, to construction products, medical devices and aerospace. He has advised some of New Zealand’s leading companies on R&D and Innovation as well as being an active early-stage investor. UBCO was founded on the idea of a rugged Utility Electric Vehicle (UEV) that would transform the way people ride, work and play. UBCO has rapidly developed into a digitally connected UEV platform. Leveraging the benefits of modern electric drive and battery technology, UBCO’s platform includes on and off-road transport (2×2), portable power, accessories, and subscription software.
Darryn Keiller, CEO & Founder of WayBeyond
After leadership roles with HP, LexisNexis and Spark, Darryn started anew as an Entrepreneur. Passionate about transformative technology, in 2015, he conceived a new vision for the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry; digital farmers, open autonomous systems and cognitive services including the virtual agronomist. Already an investor, he joined Autogrow as CEO in 2016. In 2017, Darryn pioneered the first CEA hackathon CropsOnMars and conceived FarmRoad; the industry’s only knowledge and A.I. based learning system for optimizing crop and farm productivity. The initial launch to market of FarmRoad paved the way for the next generation of solutions and the birth of the new business in 2021 – WayBeyond. Waybeyond delivers A.I. based Yield Prediction, a Crop Management Platform (Farmroad) and climate monitoring solutions (Folium) for enterprise growers.
Special thanks to ASX for hosting this event.