Yield Lab to back more Irish start-ups after second close of near €50m fund

Irish-based VC and accelerator has already backed a number of Irish agtech companies

David Bowles, Nicky Deasy and Paul Finnerty of The Yield Lab Europe.Photograph: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

David Bowles, Nicky Deasy and Paul Finnerty of The Yield Lab Europe.Photograph: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

 

State-backed agtech investor Yield Lab Europe is keen to back more Irish start-ups after announcing the second close of a near €50 million fund.

New investors in the fund, which focused on seed and Series A investments across Europe, include the European Investment Fund and Invest-NL. AIB, which contributed €4 million to the fund in June 2019, has also increased its shareholding.

The first close of the fund in mid-2019 saw Enterprise Ireland among the main investors with the State agency contributing €10 million of the €21 million raised.

The venture capital firm typically provides funding up to € 3 million per company with its annual accelerator offering a €100,000 investment and tailored supports.

“We expect to close another four or five investments by the end of this quarter, half of which are in Ireland. These include Irish-founded start-ups and companies who are relocating here,” managing partner David Bowles told The Irish Times.

The fund has backed seven companies to date under its acceleartor programme including Cork’s ApisProtect, whose technology helps commercial beekeepers protect the health of their honey bees. Other Irish start-ups to received funding include Microgen Biotech, whose technology prevents the uptake of toxic heavy metals into plants and our food, Micron Agritech, which is focused on livestock parasite testing, and Equimetrics, whose activities centre on animal health monitoring.

A number of other Irish start-ups have received investment outside of the accelerator, including Meath-based Hexafly, which has developed a new method of sustainable insect farming and Cork’s MicroSynbiotiX, a biotech start-up which is developing oral vaccines to help combat infections in fish stocks, has also received support from Yield Lab Europe.

Mr Bowles said companies from outside the Republic are keen to relocate here, in part due to the corporate tax structure but also for access to organisations such as Teagasc and businesses that are at the cutting edge in terms of innovation.

He said some astounding companies are being created here, noting the success of Microgen, which is winning lots of business in both China and the US.

“Weshould be encouraging more start-ups on the agtech side. Those that have come through are phenomenal,” Mr Bowles added.

Yield Lab Europe, which is based in the Republic, also said it is expanding into the Netherlands, with a new partnership with Startlife, an agrifood tech hub and accelerator for Wageningen University & Research.