New green innovation fund targets farmers

A new fund has launched for agricultural innovation that aims to put money in the hands of businesses with green fingers.

The venture capital fund, with an initial £8 million of investment, is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are pioneering solutions to some of the problems currently facing farming, from water resource efficiency to pest control.

The Agri-Innovation Venture Capital Fund is Anglo-Japanese and the first of its kind in the UK. It formed from a partnership between Norwich-based investment and consultancy group, Adapt Low Carbon Group, and the Japanese commercial investment firm, Tsukuba Technology Seed Co Ltd (TTS). The two organisations have been partnered since 2012.

Low Carbon Innovation Fund

Adapt, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of East Anglia, also manages the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF). The £20 million LCIF launched in 2010 to run until 2015. It has so far invested over £11 million alongside £31 million in private co-investment.

The first stage of the new fund will see some of the LCIF funding, alongside current TTS funds, diverted into agricultural technology. The second stage will then aim to deploy new streams of capital from both the UK and Japan and will begin investing in late 2015.

«We’re very excited about launching the UK’s first Anglo-Japanese Agri-Innovation Venture Capital Fund,» said ceo for Adapt, Dr John French, yesterday when the fund was officially launched. «This signifies the natural progression of our long term work in the agri-tech sector and innovation funding. And it’s the culmination of our strong relationship with Tsukuba Technology Seed Co, which will benefit innovative businesses here and in Japan.

The investments are aimed at agricultural projects that were previously struggling for support after early funding. The types of projects Adapt and TTS are looking for cover include: Water resource efficiency; Energy efficiency; Precision farming and improved farm management; Sustainable production systems; Disease, weed and pest control for animal and crop production; Irrigation, lighting and sensors for protected and field based agriculture.

«We believe [the fund] will really unlock the potential for innovative companies in the agri-tech sector to expand and grow through high quality international partnerships and provide access to new markets.» added ceo of TTS, Yoshiki Sasaki.

The LCIF has helped deliver across 35 investments, including a developer of large-scale ground mounted solar farms, Push Energy, and a developer of deep geothermal heat plants, GT Energy. – INNOVAticias



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