New multi-million dollar fund established to help New Zealand's growing agtech industry reach its commercialization potential

Finistere Ventures, a world leader in agri-food technology capital investments, is helping to bridge the gap between New Zealand's "world leading" agricultural research through the commercialization of start-ups and innovative technology.

World-class competition

The company has launched the NZ $ 40M Finistere Aotearoa Fund in partnership with New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP), to help develop the country's robust technology and IP portfolio, promoting solutions that address sustainability needs and nutrition.

“To remain globally competitive as a high-value food producer, NZ has had to develop incredibly efficient production systems,” said Dean Tilyard, venture partner at Finistere in New Zealand. “We have firmly established ourselves as a leading agricultural exporter thanks to its competent producers and supply chain. “Much of this efficiency has been gained through the application of science, and NZ now has leading scientific platforms in plant breeding and environmental technology that distinguish it as a leader in the agri-food technology ecosystem.”

NZ Government Industry Transformation Plan

The New Zealand Government's Agriculture Industry Transformation Plan was launched last year, highlighting that investment was a key constraint for the sector. Mr Tilyard explains that NZ is a center of excellence in agricultural and food technology research and development (R&D) with high levels of public funding and highly efficient production systems.

“This world-class R&D leads to new companies with good intellectual property and unique value propositions,” he said. «The development is also very profitable compared to other areas. There is a supportive government with a variety of subsidies and programs, as well as extremely efficient production systems for early market testing, an essential element for new agricultural businesses. However".

High potential technologies

The fund will focus on supporting high-potential technologies with a focus on advanced crop protection technologies, nutrient management, alternative proteins, food delivery, and supply chain advancements to promote a healthier and more sustainable food and agriculture ecosystem.

“BioLumic understands the relationship between UV light and plant growth by applying light recipes that increase positive plant traits and ultimately significantly increase yield,” Tilyard said. “The company has impressive customers and trials in horticulture, cannabis and soybean crops. ZeaKal increases a plant's ability to capture carbon and sunlight, allowing crops to store more energy, resulting in higher productivity per acre, higher nutrient density, and better carbon capture nutrient efficiency."

Kiwi exports

A broader industrial example of New Zealand agri-food innovation, according to Mr. Tilyard, has been the development of New Zealand kiwi exports, where more than 545.000 tonnes of fresh fruit were exported in 2019 worth 2.300 billion New Zealand dollars (US $ 1.600 billion).

Much of the value creation and development is supported by long-term breeding programs from Zespri and Plant and Food Research and the launch of new varieties, including the golden kiwi.

Finistere Ventures co-founder and partner Arama Kukutai added that relationship building and trust are at the core of his company's investment process.

Innovation epicenter

While New Zealand has been identified as an excellent example of an innovation epicenter with substantial promise in agri-food technology, Finistere Ventures also has established ecosystem strengths in North America, as well as Israel and Ireland.

“By bringing the connected capital and international networks needed to nurture their raw technical and business talent, we have already funded leading New Zealand companies and gained the support of investors around the world such as Rabobank, RIV Capital Inc. and Yamaha as part of our delegations in the region,” said Kukutai.

“We are committed to providing New Zealand agri-food innovators with the international perspective and network needed to build a vibrant startup ecosystem and ensure more New Zealand businesses become major players in the global agri-food sector.”

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