Fund III to invest in AgriFood tech startups focused on building a more sustainable food system
Cultivian Sandbox Ventures today announced the closing of its third venture capital fund, Cultivian Sandbox Food & Agriculture Fund III. The $135 million fund invests in food and agriculture technology companies that address global megatrends, including increasing demand for protein, food safety, traceability, nutrition, and resource efficiency.
The food and agriculture industry is undergoing unprecedented change, driven by shifting demographics, consumer preferences, sustainability pressures, and concerns about food safety and security. Emerging technologies have the potential to dramatically reshape the $5 trillion food and agriculture sector to meet the changing demands of both consumers and producers. Cultivian Sandbox invests in early stage companies that can positively impact this complex landscape.
"20 years ago, the public wanted food that was healthy, inexpensive, and tasty," said Nick Rosa, Managing Director at Cultivian Sandbox. "Now, in addition to those requirements, there's greater interest in how our food is made and where it comes from. Consumers want foods that are sustainably produced and traceable, with benefits beyond basic nutrition. We're investing in startups that can help meet these new standards for productivity, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility."
Fund III's investors, many of which are market-leading companies across the food and agriculture value chain, include Archer Daniels Midland Company, Corteva Agriscience, Ecolab, Elanco, Griffith Foods, GROWMARK, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, R.D. Offutt Company, Smithfield Foods, and Sumitomo Chemical America. Cultivian Sandbox works with its strategic investors to source valuable market and technology insights and facilitate collaboration with AgriFood tech startups.
"We value the experience of the Cultivian team, and their engagement with us as Fund investors," said Neal Gutterson, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. "Cultivian continues to be an ag and food industry thought leader, providing us with forward-leaning visibility into promising technologies for better meeting the needs of farmers and consumers."
Fund III has already invested in three innovative companies. Full Harvest has built a B2B marketplace for imperfect and surplus produce, aiming to reduce food waste while creating an additional revenue stream for farmers. Geltor designs animal-free collagens and other bioactive proteins for personal care, nutrition, and food applications. The newest addition to the portfolio, Phylagen, leverages the environmental microbiome to verify the origin of goods in global supply chains.
Fund III is also focusing on sustainable production on the farm. "Until recently, the task of protecting crops from weeds, diseases, and insects fell exclusively to synthetic chemistry. It did a marvelous job of keeping food supply ahead of population growth," said Ron Meeusen, PhD, Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox. "Now that consumers want alternatives to synthetic chemicals, the industry is adapting. Fund III will finance biological and physical alternatives that address consumer demands."
Founded in 2008, Cultivian was among the first venture capital funds to invest exclusively in food and agriculture technologies. The managing team includes executives, investors, and scientists with experience at Credit Suisse First Boston, Dow AgroSciences, Growmark, Monsanto, and NutraSweet. Cultivian Sandbox has one of the longest track records in food and agriculture venture investing. To date, Cultivian Sandbox has raised close to $300 million across three funds, invested in 25 companies, and realized five successful exits.
About Cultivian Sandbox
Cultivian Sandbox invests in emerging AgriFood tech startups that help increase production, reduce inputs, and improve sustainability. The team includes operating managers and venture investors who have served in executive roles at Fortune 100 agriculture companies. Based in Chicago, Cultivian Sandbox aims to help build next-generation food and agriculture technology companies that meet changing consumer and producer demands regarding food and agriculture practices. Learn more at www.cultiviansbx.com.