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Finistere launches Irish agtech fund, collects $100m for flagship vehicle

The venture firm has raised €40m from Ireland’s sovereign development fund and opened its first European office in the 'agtech island.'

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The venture firm has raised €40m from Ireland’s sovereign development fund and opened its first European office in the ‘agtech island.’

California’s Finistere Ventures has secured €40 million from Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund.

The investment by the €8.5 billion institution comprises a €20 million commitment to Finistere’s Finistere Ventures II and €20 million to launch the Ireland Agtech Fund, a new vehicle designed to invest in early-stage agtech companies in Ireland.

Arama Kukutai, Finistere’s founding partner, said he hoped to draw from the firm’s history of commercializing technology supported with public funding to tap opportunities throughout the EU.

“From North America to Israel, and now the EU through Ireland, we want Finistere and our portfolio companies to have full access to the top ag economies around the globe,” Kukutai noted.

As part of the effort, Finistere also announced plans to open its first European office in Ireland. The outpost will be led by Keiran Furlong, who joined Finistere in November 2015 after earlier stints as vice-president of energy business development at San Diego-based Harvest Power and director of chemicals business development at Virent in Madison, Wisconsin.

“We want Ireland to be the agtech island – a hub for European agtech. All the ingredients are here – a longstanding export-oriented agri-food industry; world-leading research at Irish universities and institutions such as Teagasc; and, of course, the thriving IT, biopharma and medtech sectors,” Furlong said.

He told Agri Investor that the IAF fund will invest primarily in seed and Series A funding rounds drawing on Ireland’s strengths in “on-farm” technologies related to dairy, supply-chain management, animal health and other sub-sectors. He said that the fund is also interested in plant and animal genetics and soil monitoring technology.

The firm’s website says that the IAF fund will invest in both Ireland-based start-ups and international businesses with capacity to “create value for Irish farmers and food producers.”

Launched at the beginning of 2015 with a $200 million target, FVII had raised $60 million from seven investors as of July 2016, according to a regulatory filing. Furlong told Agri Investor that the fund has now brought in $100 million.

Finistere’s current portfolio includes precision agriculture platform Taranis, locally grown produce supplier Plenty and CropX, an ag analytics company.