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Pontifax AgTech Announces $105M Close for Food and Ag Tech Fund

October 11, 2017

Pontifax AgTech Management announced the successful close of its first fund – Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund – at $105 million.

Founded in Santa Monica, California, in 2014, Pontifax is a leading growth capital investor that works with its extensive network of growers, tech experts, and strategic corporate partners to make targeted investments in fast-growing businesses that are developing proven technologies that improve agricultural production, nutrition, health, sustainability, and efficiencies along ag supply chains.

Pontifax AgTech invests in well-established, revenue-generating companies that are highly positioned for growth across a wide range of specialties within the food and ag tech space, including food and nutrition, life sciences, information technology, precision farming, and supply chain logistics. And reflecting the growing interest in such investments among institutional investors, the fund drew commitments from financial institutions, university endowments, investment firms, large-scale growers, and family offices.

“We are very pleased to bring our fundraising to a successful close. The overwhelmingly positive response to the Fund by a wide range of leading investors reflects growing investor enthusiasm for the AgTech sector,” said Bill Belldegrun, co-founder and managing partner, Pontifax AgTech.

To date, the fund has made seven growth capital investments in five technologies, and the fund’s portfolio consists of some of the most forward-thinking companies in the agtech sphere.

In August 2015 Pontifax AgTech was an investor included in a $34.5 million Series B raised by AgBiome –  a developer of innovative agricultural biological and trait products from the crop-associated biome to improve agricultural  productivity.

In September 2015 the firm was part of a $5 million Series A raised by Conservis, a data-empowered farm management software platform.

In May 2016 the firm took part in a $30 million Series B for CRISPR-Cas genomic engineering firm, Caribou Biosciences.

In November 2016 the fund took part in a $23 million round of follow-on funding for Florida-based Anuvia Plant Nutrients – a developer and manufacturer of highly efficient, multi-nutrient, slow-release fertilizer products with organic materials as a base using a patented system that employs a natural binding mechanism.

And in December 2015, Pontifax AgTech led a $17 million Series B for Blue River Technology – an agricultural computer vision, machine learning, and robotics firm that gathers precise data on a per-plant basis including health, structure, and needs, and treat each plant in real time in a field, cutting the need for agri-chemical treatments by up to 90 percent.

It is Blue River that has provided the first exit for the fund. In September of this year, Pontifax AgTech announced its successful first exit through the sale of Blue River Technology to John Deere in a deal valued at $305 million.

“Our recent exit from Blue River Technology underscores the value of growth stage investments in the space, and we are pleased that investors are recognizing the compelling trends and sustainability benefits from AgTech investing,” said Belldegrun.

These compelling trends, which are driving investors to the agtech space, were also addressed by Phil Erlanger, co-founder and managing partner of Pontifax AgTech.

“Food demand is increasing dramatically, with global population trending to 10 billion by 2050 and increasing per-capita consumption,” said Erlanger. “In contrast, the agriculture supply chain is confronted by declining resources and increasing sustainability pressures. Significant innovation is critical to address these market dynamics. We see numerous opportunities to invest in disruptive technologies which add value to the agricultural supply chain. We are excited to play an instrumental role in supporting the growth of disruptive AgTech businesses which improve one of the largest and most important industries in the world.”

-Lynda Kiernan 

 Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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