Scaling Up Commercial Opportunities in Animal AgTech

Kevin Zussman, Vice President of Cultivian Sandbox Ventures

The animal agtech industry is flourishing with huge investment opportunities in digital monitoring, data analytics, genome editing, advanced nutrition, feed additives, diagnostics and vaccines. Ahead of the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam (October 1-2), VC investors from Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, TerraProtein Equity and The Yield Lab share their insights on taking animal agtech innovations to full commercial scale and spotlight exciting companies to watch over the next 12 months.

New Technology Solutions
Diagnostics have the potential to re-shape the animal health industry in the same way that precision agriculture tools are beginning to transform crop production.

Kevin Zussman, Vice President of Cultivian Sandbox Ventures shares an example from its portfolio of dynamic technology companies: “Advanced Animal Diagnostics has developed rapid, on-farm diagnostics to provide livestock producers with information they need to make informed management and treatment decisions. Through accurate, onsite disease detection, producers can provide more precise animal care while significantly reducing antibiotics.”

Zussman thinks that we’ll continue to see more investment opportunities in the animal nutrition space, particularly feed additives and microbiome-related products (both prebiotics and probiotics). He says: “These products may benefit from lower regulatory hurdles and quicker paths to market than conventional animal pharmaceutical products. On the other hand, there may be fewer barriers to entry, resulting in heavy competition. In order to stand out in this space, companies must be able to deliver compelling ROIs by providing differentiated solutions with novel modes of action that do not require significant behaviour changes by the end-user. These types of solutions will generate the highest value to producers, consumers and investors alike.”

Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner at The Yield Lab

Machine vision is set to make a huge impact with IoT solutions and big data machine learning algorithms enabling producers to make faster, better and more tailored decisions. Nicky Deasy, Managing Partner at The Yield Lab explains: “We expect to see high value deals across the spectrum, both digital and life science, if companies can prove that their technologies work and can impact the bottom line of the industry in a way that really moves the needle. We also expect themes around sustainability and welfare to drive the supply chain’s demands for innovation.”

Improving the quality of genetics and herd management will help farmers raise their animals more efficiently according to Bor Boer, CEO & Partner at TerraProtein Equity. He explains: “Things like sex sorted semen can improve the selection process and at the same time improve productivity of the heifers.” Big data solutions for example will allow better and natural selection for food conversion in existing/traditional herds.”

2019 Investment Stories
The Yield Lab’s Deasy says: “We are seeing a strong deal flow in areas such as genetics, therapeutics and vaccinations, diagnostics for early stage diseases, animal and fish nutrition, treatment of effluent, and digital solutions for monitoring animals to improve animal welfare and production efficiency.”

  • Recent high-profile deals include: Canadian dairy technology start-up, SomaDetect has raised $2 million in funding for a data collection expansion across North America to improve its sensor technology and learning algorithms for dairy farm management.
  • French insect producer Ynsect won a €20 million grant from the European Commission to build a new automated facility to produce premium insect protein, due to open in 2021.
  • Aquabyte, the Norwegian aquaculture start-up that brings machine learning and computer vision technologies to improve fish farming efficiency, has raised $10 million in Series A Funding to double its team and expand in different countries.
  • Cargill has partnered with US biotechnology company White Dog Labs to offer sustainable alternatives to fishmeal in aquafeed.
  • Indian start-up String Bio announced an undisclosed amount of funding from investors including Seventure Partners.
  • UK digital start-up for the animal agtech sector Breedr received £2 million investment from LocalGlobe to advance precision farming.
  • BP (British Petroleum) made a return to the animal feed sector with its $30 million investment with US biotechnology company Calysta to produce animal feeds from natural gas.

Exciting Companies to Watch
A host of disruptive innovators and start-ups transforming animal health, nutrition and precision farming will join the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam on October 1-2, 2019. 13 exciting international start-ups will take the spotlight to showcase their technology innovations including piglet monitoring, microbiome protection, egg gender identification and nanosatellites for livestock tracking. Start-ups include: Armenta, Hectare, Hencol, Hiber, iLivestock, Insylo, Moonsyst, Proteon Pharmaceuticals, Resilient Biotics, Seleggt, String Bio, SwineTech and TerraNutriTech.

Animal AgTech Sessions Include

  • Investor Debate – Bringing Down the Barriers for Start-Ups in the Animal Agtech Sector
  • Investor Debate – Key Summit Takeaways and Predictions for Animal Agtech in 2020 & Beyond
  • Technology Showcase Sessions: Eight exciting animal agtech entrepreneurs pitch their technology solutions to a panel of investor ‘Dragons’ including Zoetis and Paine Schwartz Partners.
  • Investment Roundtable: What type of finance is needed to scale tech in the livestock sector? – hosted by Kevin Zussman, VP at Cultivian Sandbox Ventures

The speaking faculty in Amsterdam will feature high profile investors and corporate VC arms including: Anterra Capital, Cargill, Cavallo Ventures, Covenant Animal Health Partners, Evonik Venture Capital, Finistere Ventures, JBI Equity, MSD Animal Health, Nutreco, Paine Schwartz Partners, Seventure Partners, Wheatsheaf Group and Zoetis.