Australia: SproutX has closed its AU$10 million agtech venture capital fund with backing from Artesian Venture Partners and superannuation fund Hostplus.
The SproutX Venture Capital Fund, to be managed by Artesian Venture Partners, will invest in agtech startups accepted into SproutX’s accelerator programs over the next four years.
The 2017 accelerator program, to be launched later in the year, will accept 10 agtech teams, each of which will receive AU$40,000 in exchange for 8 percent equity. They will also have access to mentorship and workspace in SproutX’s new innovation hub in Melbourne.
In addition, the agtech startups will have the opportunity to distribute their products through SproutX’s corporate partners, including Ruralco and Findex.
Following the six-month accelerator program, SproutX’s agtech fund will continue to invest in the startups that are able to demonstrate traction and raise capital from third-party investors.
SproutX told ZDNet that its fund has the capacity to invest up to AU$1 million in the startups’ later-stage rounds, while Artesian has the capacity to invest an additional AU$2 million to AU$5 million.
In February, Artesian raised AU$85 million from Hostplus, a portion of which is being deployed into the agtech fund. It may raise more than the already-committed AU$10 million from other additional investors, according to SproutX.
SproutX Accelerator director Andrew Lai said the program’s competitive advantage is that participating startups will have “immediate access to customers”.
“Four of our pre-accelerator startup participants are already undergoing in-store trials with Ruralco,” Lai said.
Earlier this year, SproutX, which is a joint initiative of financial advisory firm Findex and the National Farmers’ Federation, completed an agtech pre-accelerator program designed to help startups and entrepreneurs refine their ideas in food, fibre, and agriculture.
SproutX has since opened its pre-accelerator course content to the public under an open-source licence.