Canada invests $5m in PE-backed irrigation tech company

Hortau is also sponsored by Avrio Ventures and Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins, a subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The Canadian government has approved an investment of C$5.9 million ($4.7 million; €3.9 million) in irrigation tech company Hortau, as part of an initiative to achieve better crop yields and a reduction in pesticide use through better crop management and irrigation.

Founded in 2002 in Québec, Hortau produces hardware and software for automated irrigation management, soil and weather monitoring, and data collection. The company’s investors include Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, a US private equity fund that in 2016 led a $10 million round of financing for the company, as well as Avrio Ventures and Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins, a subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

This latest investment is being made through Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a government entity that funds clean tech projects in the country.

“Hortau’s innovative platform helps farmers better manage irrigation, reducing water consumption and pesticide use across the agriculture sector,” SDTC’s president and chief executive Leah Lawrence said. “This groundbreaking technology will deliver real environmental and economic benefits for all Canadians.”

The proceeds will go towards supporting Hortau’s precision agriculture platform, the ministry of innovation, science and economic development said. A spokesperson for Hortau was not immediately available for comment.

Dual base

Since its inception, the company has also established headquarters in the US, currently in San Luis Obispo, California; expanded its staff, including its in-house R&D team; and grown its presence in America, as well as putting sensors in the ground in Turkey, Morocco, Peru and Egypt.

Canada’s investments in the clean-tech sector are part of the federal government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year program aimed at creating well-paying jobs for the middle class. New financing of C$1.4 billion in clean technology firms for 2017-18, provided by the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, comprises C$950 million in growth capital and C$450 million in additional project finance for clean technology producers.

An additional C$400 million was made available in Budget 2017 for the recapitalization of SDTC’s SD Tech Fund, which supports the development and demonstration of early-stage clean technology projects.

“Our government’s investments in clean technology reflect our commitment to protecting the planet,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development. “But they also point to a clear and strategic direction for economic development through innovation. That’s because innovations in clean tech will lead to products and services that have an impact on all sectors of the economy.”