Dutch development funds invest in dairy technology

Investors, including Rabobank partners SHIFT, are targeting Mastiline in the belief its technology could be internationally commercialised and decrease antibiotic use.

The Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), Friesian counterpart Doefonds Fryslân and Dutch impact venture capital fund SHIFT Invest have closed a Series A round of funding for a dairy agtech company, Mastiline, that says it can reduce reliance on antibiotics in herds.

SHIFT Invest partners include Rabobank and health insurer Menzis. Evert van de Werfhorst, Mastiline’s chief executive officer and businesswoman Anna Farrenkopf, who are setting up a seed investment firm focused on sensor and data technolgy called BV Izer, also invested.

The funding provides Mastiline with an undisclosed capital injection, and means the company will move to the Friesian province’s Dairy Campus, a 500-cow research and training centre for the sustainable expansion of the country’s global market position.

Mastiline’s technology could be quickly integrated in traditional milking systems and robots leading to international commercialisation, according to the company.  It is trying to tackle one of the dairy industry’s foremost challenges, mastisis, or infections of the udder, through early detection technology. Its sensor technology is intended to reduce dairy farms’ reliance on antibiotics, an issue which has raised investor concern in the guise of Coller Capital-sponsored Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) initiative and a report by former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill.

As pharmaceutical companies face increased economic challenges in antibiotics for animal use, the market for monitoring and other preventative medicine and medical devices could grow, National Office of Animal Health chief executive officer Dawn Howard told Agri Investor earlier this year.

Earlier this year, global dairy farm management provider Afimilk bought venture capital-funded start-up Silent Herdsman. The UK company had developed a neck-collar monitoring system used to detect oestrus and health problems in  cows.

European countries are among the world’s most developed dairy producers. Since European Union quotas were removed last year, dairy production has increased to the point that Rabobank suggested European expansion kept global dairy prices low.