Australia: SproutX closes $7.6m agritech fund backed by Artesian, Hostplus

Melbourne-based agri-business accelerator SproutX has closed its AU$10 million ($7.6 million) venture capital fund to make investments into agritech startups, according to a report on ZDNet.com.

Artesian Venture Partners and superannuation fund Hostplus are LPs of SproutX’s maiden fund, who will be putting AU$40,000 in exchange for 8 per cent equity of the accelerator’s startups within a period of the next four years.

The accelerator is expected to launch its first batch of 10 startups later this year. As the firm is paving the way for the operations of its six-month acceleration programme, it has set up Australia’s first co-working space dedicated to farming innovation.

SproutX Venture Capital Fund has the capacity to invest up to AU$1 million in the startups’ later-stage rounds, while its manager, Artesian, will potentially inject another amount of AU$2-5 million, ZDNet.com cited a SproutX statement.

The company will also reportedly raise further funds beyond the AU$10 million committed capital.

Artesian had earlier raised AU$85 million from Hostplus and used part of the financing to invest in SproutX Venture Capital Fund.

“Artesian has seen strong interest from domestic and international high net worth institutional and corporate investors in accessing a pipeline of the best Australian agtech startups,” Tim Heasley, COO of Artesian, reportedly said.

Startups accepted in the acceleration programme will enjoy immediate access to customers, through partnership with SproutX’s corporate partners such as Ruralco and Findex.

SproutX told ZDNet.com that four out of its pre-accelerator participants were undertaking in-store trials with Ruralco.

The pre-accelerator initiative was launched in September 2016 with an aim of developing innovation ideas within the food, fibre and agriculture fields.

Being kicked off as a joint effort of financial advisory firm Findex and the National Farmers Federation, SproutX also received a AU$1 million support from the Victoria government.

Andrew Lai and Sam Trethewey were appointed as the accelerator’s director and general manager.

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