Trendlines continues agtech investment despite licence denial

Trendlines and Saviva Capital's bid for a new agtech incubator licence in December was denied, but Trendlines intends to continue investing in the sector.

Agtech and medical venture capital firm Trendlines has asked the Israeli government to extend its medical incubator licence to include agtech, before its agtech incubator licence runs out on June 30.

Trendlines partnered with US family office Saviva Capital to bid for a new agtech licence in December, but said it was awarded to a competitor instead. Saviva signed a memorandum of understanding to commit $9.2 million to the incubator over 10 years before the application was made. It is not clear whether this  capital was dependent on receiving the licence.

Vice-president of business development Sarai Kemp told Agri Investor that the Office of the Chief Scientist’s  (OSC) discontinuation of Trendlines’ licence will not affect agtech investments in the future.

“The Trendlines Group [which] owns the agtech incubator is committed to continue investing in agtech,” she said, adding that if the group’s medical incubator has its license extended to include agtech, “this will enable us to continue investing in similar ways as we did in the past”. She added that if the licence was not extended, Trendlines would apply for other forms of support from the OSC to continue targeting agtech investments.

“Since we are the only seed stage investor in agtech in Israel, we basically have little to no competition on dealflow,” said Kemp.

There are only 24 government-licensed technology incubators across all sectors.

Trendlines Agtech invests in four to five new companies each year, with investments averaging around $1.2 million. Kemp describes the firm as “intense” investors, giving each portfolio company business, technology, finance, marketing and administrative support. Trendlines aims to have 70 percent of their portfolio companies secure follow-on investment and further growth, said Kemp.

The firm listed on the Singapore Exchange junior technology board Catalist at the end of last year for about four times its book value, raising $5 million from cornerstone investor and medical device company B Braun Melsungen.

Trendlines has invested in sixteen agtech companies to date. These include grasshopper protein company Steak Tzar Tzar, plant grafting robotics company Virentes and AquiNovo, which manufactures a feed inhibiting puberty and shortening the time it takes to reach full weight in fish.