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VC industry ups agtech investment by 86%

A recent data report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association puts venture capital investment into agriculture at $175m in 2014.

Venture capital investment into the agriculture sector grew over 86 percent in 2014, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

The report detailed some 30 deals worth $175 million in agri-related sectors in 2014 compared to $94.3 million across 12 deals in 2013. This is the largest amount recorded by the MoneyTree report since 2000 when it recorded over $200 million worth of VC investment into the sector.

The data does not take into account a further $96.8 million worth of deals recorded by Agri Investor during the year which include a $15 million investment into Advanced Animal Diagnostics by Cultivian Sandbox, the agtech VC firm, and a $14 million capital raise for Vestaron, a natural insecticide producer, which involved a range of venture capital players.

Another data provider, i3 Connect, recorded agtech investment as reaching close to $1 billion in 2014 towards the end of the year, but this included investment from corporate and private equity players.

While existing agtech venture capital players were not surprised by the data, other venture capitalists are still in the early stages of agtech investment.

“There are lots of ways to play the agriculture technology market but it hasn’t been a heavy area of investment. I think that might be because some view agriculture as not a very tech-oriented sector,” said Deven Parekh, managing director of Insight Venture Partners, who also admitted that his firm had yet to invest into the sector. “But we are looking and there are going to be lots of data and software analytics that make sense.”

Biotechnology investments were recorded separately and raised nearly $6 billion from the venture capital industry in 2014, the highest-ever volumes since records began in 1995. Reuters provided the data.

“I think there has definitely been a resurgence in the sector but there is more work to do,” said Bob Nelson, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners. “We have noticed a surge in agricultural applications in our deal flow as new tools from genomics and robotics provide ways to impact agriculture.”

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Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers/National Venture Capital Association