New NZ $ 40M investment fund for New Zealand technologies

21-04-2021 | |
Photo: EPA
Photo: EPA

Investor Finistere Ventures has launched a NZD $?40M (US $?28,2M) fund in partnership with New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP).

The Finistere Aotearoa Fund will support the growing global demand for solutions addressing sustainability and nutrition needs. The fund will focus on high-potential technologies with a concentration on advanced crop protection technologies, nutrient management, alternative proteins, food delivery, and supply chain advances.

Curtailing the environmental impact of agriculture

According to Finistere New Zealand has become a world leader in agricultural research and innovation, focused on curtailing the environmental impact of agriculture. This is fuelled by the government’s continued investment in environmental and agricultural efforts, Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner of Finistere Ventures points out.

“Investing over NZ $ 250M annually through its public sector institutions, cementing its commitment to a zero-emissions national agriculture strategy and continuing its close partnership with its ag and food ecosystem, New Zealand is a center for agricultural excellence”, Kukutai says. “Having a strong local presence in Aotearoa has long been on our agenda.”

Investment a key constraint

Finistere is committed to building a vibrant investment ecosystem in New Zealand to support the burgeoning technology innovation cluster focused on advances in agriculture, food and sustainability, Kukutai says. Investment has been a key constraint for the sector in New Zealand so far.

Finistere already has investments in New Zealand. And according to James Pinner, investment director for NZGCP’s NZ $ 300M Elevate fund, Finistere brings an impressive investment track record and strong partnerships around the globe.

“Finistere brings the domain expertise, an international network, industry relationships and smart capital needed to help New Zealand startups become major players in the booming agrifood sector”, he emphasises.

The Factory

The new fund operations will be based in Palmerston North at The Factory, a well known research and development and company incubation cluster that already has a longstanding relationship with Finistere. The Factory has been central to Finistere’s investments in New Zealand grown companies such as BioLumic and ZeaKal, as well as its most recent investment in Sprout alongside partners Fonterra and OurCrowd.

Kukutai explains that a goal for the fund in the year ahead is to anchor more investment from Finistere’s global network of partners like Rabobank, RIV Capital Inc. and Yamaha. “To support New Zealand’s best startups alongside us”, he says. “Similar to what we’ve accomplished in Ireland, Israel and North America.”

Our innovation cluster here is as good as anything in the Netherlands or Israel, but has been less well known. That is changing

Dean Tilyard, founder and director of Sprout, will serve as Finistere’s New Zealand Venture Partner and lead the new fund. “While more than $ 46B has been invested in agrifood tech over the last decade, New Zealand hasn’t had the connected capital players necessary to help our companies take full advantage of this trend”, Tilyard says. “The Finistere NZGCP partnership will make a big difference by being able to lead diligence and financing of local opportunities. Our innovation cluster here is as good as anything in the Netherlands or Israel, but has been less well known. That is changing.”

René Groeneveld Correspondent for Australia
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