Agtech investment down from record highs in first half of 2016

After VC investors flooded the agtech sector with a record $4.6bn in 2015, this year has seen a decline reflecting a broader slowdown in venture funding.

Venture investment in agtech has cooled in the first half of 2016.

Investment in the sector was $1.8 billion in the first half of 2016, according to AgFunder’s mid-year report on the sector, 20 percent less than during the same period in 2015.

The report attributes the decrease partly to a broader slowdown in the venture market which fell by roughly 28 percent in 2015, according to the report. In the first half of 2015, the agtech sector saw $2.2 billion raised, and $2.4 billion in the second half.

The report projects funding for the year to reach $3.6 billion, short of the record $4.6 billion in financing for the sector seen in 2015, but well above the $2.4 billion poured into the sector the previous year.

Soil and crop technologies, including crop inputs and treatments, as well as seed technology and biotech, saw increased investment in the first half of 2016.

Investors injected $161 million into the sector compared with just $41 million in the first half of 2015. Gene-editing, microbiome research and biological inputs represented the bulk of the fundraising activity.

E-commerce start-ups received the most funding of the sub-sectors followed by the report, with $556 million. That number, however was 22 percent less than the total for the first half of 2015.

Soil and crop technologies, farm-2-customer technology, biomaterials and biochemical technologies all received greater funding in the first half of 2016 than the previous year, but e-commerce and drones and robotics drew fewer dollars.

AgFunder has counted 307 deals in the agtech space thus far in 2016, involving 425 unique investors. Seed-stage companies saw the highest number of deals at 104 million, while Series B rounds netted the most overall funding at $449 million.