Briefing: SVG Ventures launches Pioneer Fund

The vehicle has received backing from Farm Credit Canada and will target C$75 million.

Silicon Valley-headquartered SVG Ventures has launched the venture capital Pioneer Fund through its Thrive platform.

The vehicle has been seeded by an investment from the Canadian federal Crown corporation Farm Credit Canada and will target C$75 million ($56 million; €52 million).

The fund will deploy capital across the food value chain globally and will seek out agtech start-ups developing “innovative and sustainable technologies,” a statement said.

What is the Thrive platform?

SVG’s Thrive platform is made up of agriculture, food and technology corporations, universities and investors.

The community also includes more than 5,000 start-ups, some of which SVG invests into and puts through its accelerator program.

The platform’s alumni comprises a wide range of agtech start-ups innovating various stages of the food and fibre production process, and includes businesses such as Ireland-based MagGrow, which enables the use of small droplets during pesticide application to reduce the risk of spray drift and runoff.

SVG also backed US-based Soliculture, which delivers greenhouse-integrated photovoltaic systems that generates electricity and support plant growth, among many other start-ups.

Further Canadian interest

The fund will continue SVG’s model of advancing and elevating start-ups in partnership with Alberta Innovates, which is an Alberta government provincial corporation responsible for promoting innovation in the Canadian province. Alberta Innovates also funds the Thrive Academy pre-accelerator program.

“Alberta Innovates congratulates SVG Ventures, Thrive and Farm Credit Canada coming together through the SVG Ventures Pioneer Fund,” said Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates. “Creating wraparound services for agrifood innovation is critical to building a healthy and supportive start-up ecosystem. When those companies succeed, Alberta succeeds.”

Farm Credit Canada vice-president of venture capital Rebbecca Clarke added: “FCC is pleased to be the lead investor in the SVG Ventures Pioneer Fund, which is a natural extension of our involvement in bringing SVG Thrive’s successful global accelerator and platform to Canada in 2020.”

“The Pioneer Fund is an exciting and important next step in bringing needed capital to this growing acceleration ecosystem for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs and companies in Canada’s agriculture and food industry.”