Venture capital firms Middleland Capital, SRK Management and F&C Climate Opportunity Partners have teamed up with Israeli VC ICV to back a second round of funding in Groundwork BioAg, an Israel-based producer of fungi that improves crop yields and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Middleland, SRK and F&C are all investing in the business for the first time, while ICV backed the company through its Series A round. The funding amount was undisclosed.
“Groundwork’s uniquely effective and environmentally-sound products have the potential to disrupt the rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar, bioagriculture market,” Brian Mixer, investment director at Middleland Capital who joined Groundwork’s board of directors, said in a statement.
Groundwork BioAg makes mycorrhizal inoculants for agriculture, which are the product of over two decades of research at Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization. The company said that the fungi can help improve plants’ root systems, which improves nutrient uptake in over 90 percent of all species, leading to increased crop yields, reduced fertiliser requirements and the capacity to repel soil-borne pathogens.
An early-stage tech investor based in Washington, DC, Middleland led a $7.3 million series A round into Bensen Hill Biosystems in August, and co-invested with Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners and S2G Ventures in Shenandoan Growers. It also joined Cultivian Sandbox and ARCH Venture Partners in the Series D financing for Agrivida which closed on $23 million last month.
F&C Climate Opportunity Partners is managed by BMO Global Asset Management’s private equity team, the asset management arm of Canada’s Bank of Montreal. The Bank of Montreal acquired F&C, a UK-based asset management firm, for £708 million (€973m; $1bn) in spring 2014. F&C Climate Opportunity Partners is investing out of a €30 million ($33.5m) fund. At the beginning of 2015 the fund was 50 percent invested. SRK is a New York-based venture capital firm.
ICV manages over $150 million (€134m) in two funds and is currently investing from its $74 million (€66m) second fund which closed in 2013.