2021 Mid-Year AgTech Venture Capital Investment Round Up

Halfway through the year, 2021 is shaping up to be another record year for AgTech venture capital investments. So far, just over $4.3B has been invested in the sector across 263 deals. In all of 2020, $5.15B was invested in this sector. If this pace holds, the 2021 investment total will be 70% higher than last year. In addition to increasing investment dollars, the number of deals completed is also on pace to increase 25% over last year.

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Of these deals, 60% were in early-stage startups (companies that have raised less than $10M in capital), 24% were in emerging stage startups (companies that have raised between $10M – $50M in capital), and 16% were in later stage startups (companies which have raised more than $50M in capital). The high percentage of early-stage deals represents a bounce back from last year’s slowdown driven by Covid-19 when many venture capitalists focused on follow-on investments in their existing portfolio companies.

Here is a breakout of how much venture capital was raised in each AgTech sector, as well as some of the startups that raised the largest rounds of financing.

Value Chain & Logistics

There was a total of 83 startups focused on the value chain and logistics that raised capital, representing 36% of the AgTech dollars invested so far in 2021. Food waste continues to be the highest area of focus in this category. However, robotic harvesting is starting to attract the attention of investors.

The three largest deals in this category include a $330M round for Dingdong Maicai, a Chinese fresh vegetable e-commerce platform, a $200M round for Misfits Market, a subscription box service for organically sourced produce, and a $157M round for BayoTech*, an energy solutions company with technology for the modular production of hydrogen and fertilizer.

Food / Feed / Fuel Ingredients

A total of 57 startups related to the food, feed, and fuel ingredients category raised 31% of the AgTech venture capital so far in 2021. This category continues to be dominated by vertical farming, animal product alternatives, and hydroponic farming. During the first half of this year, a handful of plant-based seafood companies were funded.

The three largest deals in this category include a $300M round for Bowery Farming, a vertical farming company, a $200M round for Eat Just, a company offering plant-based substitutes for eggs, and a $130M round for Modern Meadow, a company that makes animal free leather.

Crop Protection/Production

42 startups related to crop protection or production raised 19% of the venture capital dollars in the first six months of this year. Biologics and regenerative input startups continue to attract the most investment dollars in this category.

The three largest deals announced this year include $208M raised by Inari, a biotech seed company, $103M raised by Anuvia Plant Nutrients, a maker of bio-based fertilizers, and $90M for Pairwise, a developer of new types of leafy greens, berries, and cherries using genome editing tools.

Digital Agriculture

There were 60 digital agriculture startups that have raised capital so far this year, representing 11% of the dollars invested in the sector. This year one of the trends in digital agriculture has been the decrease in cost it now takes to launch something into outer space. This has led to a proliferation of startups building their own monitoring or sensing equipment and launching their own constellation of satellites.

The three largest deals announced so far this year include $85M for Gro Intelligence, a climate monitoring and prediction company, $77M for Tomorrow.io, a weather intelligence provider, and $46M for XAG, a Chinese drone and unmanned vehicle company focused on agriculture.

Animal Health/Nutrition

A total of 21 startups with technologies focused on improving animal health and nutrition raised 3% of AgTech venture capital so far this year. Overall, venture capitalists have continued to invest very little in the animal health sector, preferring to continue to back alternative proteins and cell-based meat alternatives.

The three largest deals announced in 2021 so far were a $23M round for AgriWebb, an app that helps livestock producers with record keeping and compliance, a $23M round for Halter, a company that creates GPS enabled, solar powered collars for cows, and a $12M round for Vence, an application that allows farmers to remotely manage and control their livestock.

*Please note that the Yield Lab has an investment in BayoTech.

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