Big Idea Ventures hits first close on $75m Fund II

The venture capital investor raised its debut $50m vehicle during the pandemic and hit its fundraising target in May 2021.

Alternative protein specialist Big Idea Ventures has held a first close on its $75 million New Protein Fund II. A figure for the fundraising amount was not disclosed.

Fund II will pursue a similar strategy to its predecessor, targeting early-stage alternative protein companies in the plant-based, cell-based and fermentation food categories.

The vehicle will also target start-ups developing alternative ingredients and impactful food products, which is a new addition to the strategy.

Big Idea Ventures launched its debut NPF in 2019 and completed fundraising at its $50 million target in May 2021.

Fund I received commitments from LPs such as Temasek, Tyson Ventures, Swiss multinational processing and ag equipment company Bühler, and oil ingredient specialist AAK, among others.

The firm said Fund II has received backing from AAK and Bühler but did not specify any other repeat or new investors.

NPF II will invest directing into start-ups and through its accelerator program, which is a five-month course run out of the firm’s Paris, Singapore, and New York offices.

“It has truly been a pleasure to provide support to our diverse range of portfolio companies,” said founder Andrew Ive in a statement.

“From tantalizing plant-based meat to sustainable cultivated oysters, as well as innovative seaweed and mycelium-based products, our team has been privileged to witness the growth and development of these exceptional product lines. Currently we are focused on enabling technologies for the industry. We foresee that through NPF II, we will be able to accelerate the industry further with investments in technologies such as molecular farming, precision-fermentation, AI-enabled software and hardware, and more.”

Big Idea Ventures’ website says 88 percent of companies into which Fund I invested went on to raise external capital and the fund has exited three businesses.

Some of the start-ups that went on to raise sizable funding rounds post-BIV investment include French startup Gourmey, which secured €48 million in Series A funding in October 2022, and Black Sheep Foods, which raised a $12.3 million Series A in December 2022.

Speaking to Agri Investor shortly after the launch of Fund I, Ive said the pandemic had created a stronger interest among LPs for alterative proteins.

“We’ve found a few things since covid-19 and one is that there’s even more interest in plant-based foods and cell-based foods from the investor community,” Ive said.

“Raising a first-time fund is difficult at any time and if you’re in the room […] in a category that is already filled with other investment funds and you’re one of many, then I’m sure it’s even more difficult. With our first fund, we’re very focused on alternative plant-based, cell-based meats, seafood and dairy.

“It’s a blanket statement to say it’s a terrible time to raise money. I think it is [terrible] if you’re not in such a great category as we are.”