AgTech venture pioneer Finistere Ventures and International Farming Corporation (IFC), a leading institutional farmland owner, today announced a strategic partnership and the launch of Willow Hill Ventures at Global AgInvesting 2016. Willow Hill Ventures is the first Ag venture fund with a captive farmland base and on-farm innovation ecosystem dedicated to growth capital.
“Growth capital is critical to adopt and scale early AgTech investments into viable farming businesses. And validation of these technologies through farmer uptake and field tests creates positive market traction,” said Arama Kukutai, Co-Founder at Finistere. “Innovative entrepreneurs require experienced investors and a farmland foundation to accelerate revenue and achieve market scale. We think this combination will help the best AgTech startups bridge the Series B funding gap.”
Tapping the combined expertise and resources of Finistere and IFC, Willow Hill offers an unparalleled solution to farmer challenges, with dedicated acreage and proprietary scientific testing programs for rapid in-field iteration. The Willow Hill advantage is distinct, offering a diversified platform of crop varieties, weather, growers and long-standing agricultural partners to transfer knowledge to growing companies.
“Today’s farmers are bombarded with a dizzying array of technology solutions while trying to navigate evolving consumer food trends and the pressures of a consolidating farm sector,” noted Charlie McNairy, CEO of IFC. “Willow Hill relates the multi-generational farming heritage that farmers can trust. Our farm labs discover and test the latest disruptive technologies so we can rapidly vet and validate the technologies ready for scale while reducing investment risk — both for the investor and the farmer.”
Finistere has a long history of successful AgTech investments — including current portfolio companies CropX and ZeaKal. Willow Hill will focus on best-in-class AgTech solutions in informatics/big data, novel farm systems, food quality and nutrition, genetics and seed tech that increase the sustainability, profitability and productivity of agriculture.
“If you look at the current AgTech pipeline, there’s a huge funding gap. Everyone is racing to invest in startups, but no firm has truly dedicated itself to helping those startups mature upon proof of concept,” added Dr. Spencer Maughan, Bay Area Partner at Finistere Ventures. “Willow Hill fills that gap by providing much-needed growth capital and a proven platform for scaling technologies. We test a mix of solutions and then fund and scale what works.”