Galway-based agritech accelerator programme Yield Lab Europe has announced a new €21 million venture capital fund backed by Enterprise Ireland and AIB.
Enterprise Ireland has invested €10 million in the new Yield Lab Europe Fund 1 LP, which will fund early stage “agtech” companies that have the potential to scale internationally. AIB is investing a further €4 million in the fund, with three private family offices also offering financial support.
The fund will invest in companies that improve the sustainability of food production. It includes an accelerator fund that will invest €100,000 into five companies each year, and a larger follow-on fund to lead rounds through to Series A.
Yield Lab, which has successfully run its agtech accelerator programme from Galway over the past two years, said it intends to raise further capital for the new fund over the next 12 months.
"The launch of this new fund is a testament to our success to date and the potential of this sector. It gives us the financial firepower to be a leading player in early stage investment in European agtech," said Paul Finnerty, chairman of Yield Lab Europe.
Among the Irish start-ups in Yield Lab's portfolio are Cork's ApisProtect, whose technology helps commercial beekeepers protect the health of their honey bees. Others include Meath-based Hexafly, which has developed a new method of sustainable insect farming and Carlow's Microgen Biotech, whose technology prevents the uptake of toxic heavy metals into plants and our food.
Cork-based MicroSynbiotiX, a biotech start-up backed by Sean O'Sullivan's SOSV, which is developing oral vaccines to help combat infections in fish stocks, has also received support from Yield Lab Europe.
"This fund will increase the availability of that essential early stage growth capital and address equity funding availability within the area of agri-food technologies, further driving Ireland's reputation for quality and innovation in this important sector," said Kevin Sherry, executive director of global business development at Enterprise Ireland.