China-focused agrifood tech venture capital firm Bits x Bites has hit the first close of a new fund at $30 million, the firm announced on Tuesday.
The new fund has a targeted size of $70 million and is expected to reach the final closing in the coming months.
It received capital commitments from Singapore state investor Temasek; Heritas Capital Management, a Singaporean fund management firm that primarily invests in health and related food technologies; and Henry Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin, a Philippine-based food manufacturer that owns brands like the UK meat replacement firm Quorn.
Several food conglomerates and family offices in China and Southeast Asia also invested in the first closing.
Led by general partners Matilda Ho and Joseph Zhou, Shanghai-based Bits x Bites invests exclusively in the agrifood tech sector with a focus on the Chinese market. The firm backs Chinese and international startups in their early financing efforts of up to Series B.
Bits x Bites invests in businesses across the food supply chain, from precision agriculture, crop, and animal health to protein alternatives and nutrition.
To date, it has invested in startups that are advancing gene editing for high-performing crops, functional chickpea-based protein ingredients, as well as cost-efficient, non-genetically modified organisms (GMO), and cell-based meat production.
Its portfolio includes companies such as Chanbala, which creates silkworm-based food products for Chinese consumers; Alesca Life, a Beijing-based agritech startup that builds indoor weatherproof, data-driven farms; and Israeli chickpea protein startup InnovoPro.
The new fund already made its first investment in Mojia Bio, a Hangzhou-based bio-industrial firm that produces essential nutrients. Its proprietary bio-manufacturing process increases yield and limits by-product and environmental pollution associated with conventional chemical synthesis. Mojia Bio closed over 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) in a Series A round this August.
The vehicle also deployed capital to its existing portfolios, InnovoPro and Tropic Biosciences, a UK-based firm that uses advanced genetic breeding technologies to develop tropical crop varieties like coffee and bananas.
“With African swine flu, COVID, and uncertain trade relations, nothing else is more urgent in China today than growing the self-sufficiency and sustainability in food production,” said Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, in a statement. “China has built a vast digital ecosystem with impressive e-grocery and food delivery penetration, and these downstream platforms have been driving food and retail investment in China.”
She continued: “However, without investment in upstream innovation, we won’t see meaningful improvement in farm production efficiency to sustain the rapidly growing food demand. And without biotech and ingredient innovation midstream, food products will fall short of consumers’ expectations in nutrition, clean label, taste, value, and transparency. These opportunities are what brought Bits x Bites and our LPs together.”