JB Equity seeks £15m to commercialise university agtech

The equity firm and the University of Edinburgh have created Roslin Technologies to invest in agtech university spin-outs.

Agri-focused UK private equity firm JB Equity is seeking £15 million ($21.6 million; €19.1 million) to monetise food and agri technologies developed at the University of Edinburgh.

The firm has partnered with the University to create a technology commercialisation company called Roslin Technologies, focused on developing licensing opportunities and spin-out companies for technologies developed at the University’s Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The partnership has the potential to create opportunities in upstream segments of the value chain like livestock genetics, feed additives and veterinary pharmaceuticals, JB Equity investment manager Erik Tveteraas told Agri Investor.

“There are already five or six proof of concepts early on in the pipeline, centring on genetics and genomics, that we are looking to commercialise in the near and medium term, potentially by building spin-off companies around these opportunities,” said Tvetaraas.

The company’s focus on bringing to market new technologies in the agri sector closely aligns with JB Equity’s vertical integration strategy, particularly in the protein space, Tvetaraas said.

“It fits into our investment thesis in that, if you’re able to capture certain technological advantages and build companies around that early on in the value chain, [it] can lead to controlling market positions in certain segments in the agri industry,” he said.

Edinburgh-based JB Equity was founded in 2013 by Kristian Bennetsen, previously an investment manager at Emirates NBD Private Banking, and Martin Hjorth Jensen, who has a background in pig breeding and commercial pig farming. Its US partner is Joseph Connor, also president of the Carthage Group which provides veterinary and management consulting services for swine.

The firm invests on a deal by deal basis, targeting investments between $10 million and $40 million, and plans to raise a traditional fund in 2016 to target growth-capital investments valued between $8 million and $20 million.