Q3 2021 AgTech Venture Capital Investment and Exit Round Up

Last quarter set a record for venture capital investments into AgTech startups. In total, $4.016B was raised by 171 startups in Q3. To put this in perspective, last year AgTech companies raised a total of $5.15B, so this this a huge haul in just one quarter. In the first three quarters of 2021, 441 AgTech startups have raised over $8.3B.

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The pace of exits by venture-backed startups focused on AgTech slowed last quarter compared to that of the first half of the year. There were six announced exits last quarter, four through M&A and two through a public listing. There have been 31 exits so far in 2021, up significantly from 14 last year.

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. Finally, the exits of the last quarter are also listed.

Food / Feed / Fuel Ingredients

A total of 50 startups in the food, feed, and fuel ingredients category raised $1.813B in capital last quarter. Companies focused on replacing animal products continue to raise huge sums of capital. In addition to plant or cell-based protein startups, several insect production companies raised venture capital last quarter. However, there was a slowdown in funding for startups in the controlled environmental agriculture space.

The three largest deals in this category include a $350M round for Perfect Day, a biotechnology company replacing dairy products through fermentation, a $350M round for Nature’s Fynd, a company that uses fermentation to produce protein from fungi into food products, and a $235M round for NotCo, a company offering plant-based substitutes for milk.

Value Chain & Logistics

There was a total of 57 startups focused on the value chain and logistics sector that raised $1.046B last quarter. Companies that reduce food waste and help deliver local produce continue to attract investor attention. In addition, startups launching robotic harvesters have garnered investor attention. Finally, several climate monitoring startups focused on farms raised capital as well.

The three largest deals in this category include a $250M round for Apeel Sciences, a company which makes a plant-based coating to extend the shelf life of fruits, a $225M round for Misfits Market, a subscription box service for organically sourced produce, and a $120M round for GrubMarket, an online marketplace that delivers local food direct to consumers. Misfits Market has made this list two quarters in a row. The company raised $200M in April of this year.

Crop Protection/Production

Twenty-eight startups related to crop protection or production raised $773M last quarter. Companies bringing new biological products to market were last quarter’s big winner.

The three largest deals announced from last quarter include $430M raised by Pivot Bio, a company making bio-fertilizers from microbes, $116M raised by AgBiome, a maker of bio-based pesticides from microbes, and $45M for Sound Agriculture, a developer of bio-stimulates to get plants to increase nutrient uptake.

Digital Agriculture

There were 20 digital agriculture startups that have raised capital last quarter, representing $226M in investments. Investors here stayed focused on digital agronomy, farm management, and yield prediction software.

The three largest deals announced so far this year include $100M for Semios, a crop management software platform for tree fruit, nuts, and vines, $30M for FieldIn, a farming software platform helps specialty crop growers manage pesticide applications, harvest activities, and field operations, and $23M for Ceres Imaging, an aerial imagery to help farms, orchards, and vineyards optimize irrigation.

Animal Health/Nutrition

A total of 16 startups with technologies focused on improving animal health and nutrition raised $157M last quarter. There were many investments made in Q3 focused on aquaculture.

The three largest deals announced in last quarter were a $75M round for Embark, a company that makes DNA testing kits for companion animals, a $24.6M round for Proteon Pharmaceuticals, a company commercializing microbes to replace the need for antibiotics in livestock, and a $20M round for XpertSea, a software company focused on tech and finance solutions for the aquaculture supply chain.

Exits

There were two startups with AgTech products that became publicly traded companies last quarter, both through SPAC mergers, and four companies that exited through M&A.

Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic biology company that produces bacteria for industrial applications started trading as NYSE: DNA in September. Ginkgo’s platform is used by several other AgTech companies including Motif FoodWorks which makes meat and dairy replacements via fermentation, and Joyn Bio, a joint venture between Ginkgo and Leaps by Bayer making biological crop protection products. September also saw Benson Hill begin trading as NYSE: BHIL. The company uses data science and machine learning with biology and genetics to produce new crop varieties focused on the plant-based protein market.

As for M&A transactions, Agworld, a farm management software platform, was acquired by Semios for an undisclosed amount in August. As mentioned earlier, Semios raised a $100M capital raise last quarter. payAgri, a marketplace for the ag value chain, was acquired by Suumaya Industries for an undisclosed amount in August. Gaia Foods, a cultured meat startup, was acquired by Shiok Meats in August for an undisclosed amount. Finally, Bear Flag Robotics, a developer of autonomous tractors, was acquired by John Deere in August for $250M.

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