Willow Hill Ventures will focus on growth-stage companies specialising in data and analytics, food quality and nutrition, novel farm systems, genetics and seed tech, according to a statement.
The new vehicle will make use of asset manager IFC’s farmland holdings to test products and help form a customer base for portfolio companies. Agtech and life sciences venture capital firm Finistere’s proprietary scientific testing programme will also be available to portfolio companies.
The intention is that by combining IFC and Finistere’s specialisations and market access, Willow Hill portfolio companies will be more successful at scaling up commercially – a major challenge for many agtech startups and growth-stage companies.
“If you look at the current agtech pipeline, there’s a huge funding gap. Everyone is racing to invest in startups, but no firm has truly dedicated itself to helping those startups mature upon proof of concept,” said Spencer Maughan, Bay Area partner at Finistere.
“Innovative entrepreneurs require experienced investors and a farmland foundation to accelerate revenue and achieve market scale. We think this combination will help the best agtech startups bridge the Series B funding gap,” said Finistere co-founder Arama Kukutai in a statement.
In February 2015, Finistere held a $150 million first close on its second venture vehicle which is targeting $200 million, according to PEI Research & Analytics. The main investment focus is on companies based in the United States, but companies in countries like Canada and Israel are being considered for that portfolio, as long as they agree to serve the American market.
The IFC is an institutional farmland owner and manager. The company focuses on opportunistic acquisition and improvement of undervalued and mispriced farmland assets.