St Louis, MO, United States
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News Article | May 13, 2017
Site: techcrunch.com

Agriculture startups that raised seed rounds in recent years are blossoming into businesses sought after by later-stage investors. Investment in the agtech space is up sharply this year, driven by a spike of rounds at Series B and later stages, according to Crunchbase data. Altogether, agtech startups raised more than $320 million in 2017 so far, a more than three-fold increase over the same period last year. There’s no single investment theme attracting VCs. Rather, funding recipients are applying robotics, big data, genetic engineering and a host of other technologies to a range of agriculture use cases. Take, for example, the three companies that harvested the largest rounds this year. They include Farmer’s Business Network, an online network where farmers share data and negotiate prices with suppliers, Calysta, a protein feedstock developer, and Inocucor, a fertilizer startup. (See our list of 2017 funding recipients here.) Active venture investors in the ag space are also a diverse bunch. A host of smaller agriculture- and environment-focused funds, many relatively new, are putting capital to work. But so are big generalist funds. Crunchbase shows Google’s GV as having more agtech venture investments than anyone else. “There’s a broader class of investors that’s gotten more comfortable with the space,” said Rob Leclerc, CEO of AgFunder, a marketplace for agtech startups. He attributes this, in part, to the emergence of more ag-focused seed- and early-stage investors over the past four years. These investors have helped build a pipeline of startups ready for larger venture rounds. Agriculture entrepreneurs now have a choice of firms likely receptive to their pitches. The list includes seed-stage investors like The Yield Lab and Better Food Ventures, as well as firms focused on Series A and later rounds, such as Lewis and Clark Ventures and S2G Ventures. (See active agtech investor list here.) Leclerc says the rise of “digital agtech” is also opening agriculture startups to a broader range of investors. Historically, it’s been more life science investors who’ve diversified into agriculture, applying investment expertise in genetics and biology to startups developing pesticides, fertilizers, feedstocks and crop varieties. But companies like Farmer’s Business Network (FBN), which pitches itself as a big data player, are appealing more to tech and generalist VCs. FBN’s latest round, for $40 million, was led by GV and impact investor DBL Partners. Startups are also making progress in demonstrating potential for the scalability that later-stage investors require. A recent case in point is Abundant Robotics, a developer of apple-picking robots that just raised $10 million in a GV-led round this month. While investors have always liked the idea of harvesting robots, in the past the technology was considered too costly, cumbersome and error-prone to effectively compete with humans. Now, technological advancements in machine vision, processing, robotics and other areas, combined with an expected long-term decline in the availability of seasonal agricultural labor, make fruit-picking robots more marketable. While venture activity is perking up for agtech, Leclerc cautions that most startups are still a long way from returning capital to investors. Although there are a lot of Series A, B and C rounds happening, we do not see many agtech exits. The last really big venture-backed acquisition was in 2013, when The Climate Corp., a provider of big data tools for agriculture, sold to Monsanto for $930 million. There’s been no deal approaching that magnitude since. Leclerc is optimistic exits will pick up once the current pipeline of venture-backed companies matures and the largest agriculture industry players refine their M&A strategies. In the past year and a half, there’s been a wave of planned consolidation in Big Agriculture, with pending mergers between Dow and DuPont as well as Bayer and Monsanto. These companies will likely need time to close and digest these mega-acquisitions before looking seriously at buying startups. As for IPO candidates, the agtech sector has produced some valuable companies, but it’s not clear any startups are ready to tap public markets yet. Further on the horizon, however, Leclerc can envision some of the current venture-backed crop going public — particularly FBN, which has a reported private valuation around $400 million. Farmers Edge, a provider of software for crop management that has raised more than $100 million to date, could also make a good IPO candidate, he says. All told, according to Leclerc, it’ll probably be at least 18 months to two years before today’s hot agtech startups are likely to deliver big returns from either M&A or IPOs. But agtech investors and entrepreneurs, much like farmers, are proving to be a patient bunch.


The Yield Lab | Entity website

June 22, 2016 | by cre8tive Minus distinctio et sed. A rerum nisi beatae et necessitatibus et ...


The Yield Lab | Entity website

About The Yield Lab provides new AgTech companies with $100,000 in funding, mentors and connections supported by an agriculturally solid framework in St. Louis ...


The Yield Lab | Entity website


The Yield Lab | Entity website

About Our Story The idea for the Yield Lab became a reality in 2014 with a vision of helping to address growing global food security concerns. Thad Simons, former CEO of NOVUS International, joined forces with Cultivation Capital to create the Yield Lab after seeing more and more deal flow within the agricultural sector ...


The Yield Lab | Entity website

About The Yield Lab provides new AgTech companies with $100,000 in funding, mentors and connections supported by an agriculturally solid framework in St. Louis ...


News Article | September 2, 2014
Site: www.agrimarketing.com

Source: The Yield Lab Thad Simons joins The Yield Lab, St. Louis, MO, as its Managing Partner. He is Board President of the International Food and Agribusiness Association (IFAMA) and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Novus International, Inc. From 2001 to 2014, he led Novus in its growth into a global animal health and nutrition company with sales exceeding US $1 billion. Thad's awards and recognitions include: International Businessperson of the Year, Agribusiness Leader of the Year, and Entrepreneur of the Year. About The Yield Lab The Yield Lab is focused on bridging the critical gap between innovation and fruition of new agricultural technology by supporting early stage companies. The Yield Lab provides new AgTech companies with $100,000 in funding, mentors, and connections supported by an agriculturally solid framework of organizations and businesses from the St. Louis area. Tweet


News Article | September 12, 2014
Site: precision.agwired.com

A new agricultural technology business accelerator was officially launched last week out of St. Louis. The Yield Lab is “focused on bridging the critical gap between innovation and fruition of new agricultural technology by supporting early stage companies” providing new ag tech companies with $100,000 in funding, mentors, and connections in the greater St. Louis area. “”We plan to embrace the unique agricultural networks and resources the region offers,” said Thad Simons, one of the general partners for The Yield Lab. “We think this can be a powerful opportunity to take innovative companies to the next step.” Simons is Board President of the International Food and Agribusiness Association (IFAMA) and former President and CEO of Novus International, Inc. Other general partners include Jeff Peterson, former Vice President of Strategic Development at Monsanto and board member of the Center for Emerging Technologies in St Louis, and Tom Adamitis, Former Global Vice President of Raw Materials and Energy Procurement for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Backed by Cultivation Capital, The Yield Labs intends to select four to eight agriculturally based technology companies each year with a nine month cohort and is currently accepting applications for the inaugural 2015 class. Applications are due online by October 24th, 2014.


News Article | October 24, 2014
Site: agfundernews.com

St. Louis based agtech accelerator Yield Lab and Arch Grants have announced they are developing a partnership to provide resources to AgTech startups in the St. Louis region. Yield Lab is a new business accelerator that invests in sustainable methods of increasing the world food supply. “LifePack is an international company from Cali, Colombia which manufactures plates and other items made of natural plant fibers and seeds that germinate in a backyard garden or landfill when exposed to light, air, and water,” explained Ginger Imster, Executive Director of Arch Grants. “The Yield Lab is an ideal location for LifePack to headquarter because of its network of major agricultural players in the St. Louis Region.” LifePack will join the Yield Lab on-site at the Helix Center and participate in the 2015 Yield Lab program which will focus on direct business training, mentoring, and networking opportunities. “We have a long list of resources that will provide high value and growth potential for LifePack,” said Thad Simons, Lead Managing Partner of the Yield Lab, “we look forward to working with LifePack and a continued relationship with Arch Grants to tap into the growing Agriculture Technology sector.” Arch Grants is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, economic development organization with a mission to create an entrepreneurial culture and infrastructure to build successful companies in the St. Louis region. Through its Global Startup Competition, applications are accepted worldwide and Arch Grants selects the most innovative businesses to receive $50,000 equity-free cash grants and a host of pro bono support services. To date, Arch Grants has awarded $3.1 million to 55 companies. Yield Lab’s inaugural 2015 class will consist of 4 to 6 companies and the program begins in January. The Yield Lab is accepting applications through October 31, 2014 and Arch Grants will open its 2015 application January 1, 2015. Have news or other tips we should cover? Email rob@agfunder.com

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