Australia’s Tenacious Ventures closes first agrifood tech fund at $27m

Photo: Thomas Grams on Unsplash

Australian agrifood tech investor Tenacious Ventures has closed its first venture capital fund at A$35 million ($27 million), according to an announcement. 

Founded by agrifood tech experts Matthew Pryor and Sarah Nolet, Tenacious Ventures supports early-stage companies that are developing technologies designed to lower emissions and increase energy efficiency in the agriculture sector.

Tenacious Ventures Fund I, which was launched in 2019 with a target of A$30 million, aims to invest in up to 20 early-stage (seed and Series A) agrifood tech companies that are underpinned by emerging technologies and transformative business models.

As an unconditionally registered fund under the federal government’s ESVCLP scheme, 80% of the fund’s capital will be deployed into Australian-domiciled startups at the time of investment.

The fund achieved its first close in March 2020 at just over A$20 million, backed by cornerstone commitments of A$8 million from the Australian Government Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Mike & Annie Cannon-Brookes’ personal investment fund Grok Ventures.

Over the past year, Tenacious has made six investments and raised another A$15 million, all during COVID-19. The fund’s investors include tech and agribusiness executives, family offices, impact investors, and active primary producers.

“Over the last five years we’ve seen the ecosystem grow and produce world-class startups, but many were struggling to attract funding – local investors didn’t understand the space or have the networks to diligence opportunities, and offshore investors were too far away,” said Nolet, who is also the founder of agrifood tech advisory firm AgThentic. 

The Tenacious portfolio includes waste management startup Goterra, and SwarmFarm Robotics, an autonomous agricultural vehicle platform company. Other investments include Nori, a US-based carbon marketplace; Vow, a cellular agriculture company; RapidAIM, a CSIRO-spinout commercialising a digital crop protection platform; and Nowadays, a clean label sustainable protein company.

The Australian government-backed clean energy investor CEFC had earlier invested up to $125 million in Qualitas Build-to-Rent Impact Fund (QBIF), Australia’s first property debt fund that seeks to finance the country’s first low emissions build-to-rent residential buildings.

In 2019, CEFC committed up to A$100 million ($70 million) to invest in clean energy via a joint venture fund with infrastructure-focused Ironstone Capital.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.