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Reed Elsevier bets on Aussie agdata firm

The UK venture capital firm led a A$6 million Series C investment round into Agworld, an Australian agdata software company. Agworld is now focusing on entering the US market.

Agworld, an Australian agdata management software company, has raised A$6 million ($5.6 million; €4 million) in Series C funding. The round was led by UK venture capital firm, Reed Elsevier Ventures, and included previous round investor Yuuwa Capital, an Australian venture capital firm. Agworld has now raised a total of $12 million.

Agworld will use this latest funding to develop its brand in the American agtech market.

Despite the dominance of the US market for agtech, there is plenty of room for development and funding elsewhere in the world, according to Tony Askew, general partner at Reed Elsevier Ventures.

“Agworld has the most complete product [in agdata software terms]. Most of the agtech projects in the US are speculative and early stage. Agworld has proved itself in Australia, and its product is the most advanced in this part of the market, which it’s tailored for the US. So, they’re a new entrant but not a brand new company,” he told Agri Investor.

Agworld is also well prepared for the US challenge, according to Matthew Macfarlane, investment director at Yuuwa Capital.

“The US agdata market required considerable adaptations to the platform and the way of communicating, working with partners and growing the business.  Agworld has been preparing for this US push for over two years and has employees based in the US market who are focused on developing the platform,” said Macfarlane.

Both investors are fairly new to the agtech market, with Reed Elsevier Ventures the most recent of the two. But Askew likes what he has seen so far. “Agtech is definitely something of interest to us,” he told Agri Investor. “We’ve watched the market for 18 months or so. Digitalisation and data are transforming other traditional sectors of the economy, with and agri now experiencing the initial effects of digital change,” he said.

Yuuwa has two agtech companies in its portfolio, investing in Agworld in 2010 and Nexgen Plants, an ag biotech company, last year.

Exit strategies are not on the table as yet for either investor, but in the long term, Agworld could surpass traditional expectations, although there are few comparables, according to Macfarlane. “There is a limited list of SaaS – software as a service -companies that have expanded aggressively out of Australia. The pathway to exit has been a mix of IPOs and trade sales,” he said.

Agworld’s product is a series of software packages varying in features and price, tailored to farmers and agronomists needs. Its features include crop production plans, geospatial data interrogation, agronomist recommendations, and financial and crop performance reporting.

Reed Elsevier Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm, typically investing $3 million – $7 million at the Series A, B and C round. The firm is the venture capital arm of Reed Elsevier, a large information and analytics company based in London.

Yuuwa Capital is a A$40 million early-stage venture capital firm based in Perth, Australia. It invests in the life sciences, biotech and clean technology sectors.