We can all, by now, ascribe to the idea that something has changed in the last few months. Like it or not, business is not as it was. If we were true to ourselves, we would admit that our lives will never be the same again. But parallel to this visceral feeling is the quite clear and objective truth that the planet that sustains our existence is in trouble. So, surely, is it not beholden upon us to step up? Is this both a moral and a commercial opportunity?
Today Astanor Ventures is launching a $325 million "Global Impact Fund" concentrating on food and agriculture technology. These are two of the most pressing areas in the climate debate. The aim is to deploy funds across Europe and North America.
Astanor's fund is a multi-stage tech investor that unites both knowledge and experience of scaling new technology companies with food, cross-sector expertise and agriculture.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Eric Archambeau, co-founder and partner of Astanor Ventures said: “There is now an urgent need for an impact investor like Astanor which is using tech and capital to bring about a revolution in food and farming.”
Archambeau told TechCrunch that the fund will rigorously apply to its investments the ideas behind the UN's 17 SDGs.
“There is a new generation coming on board at LPs and family offices today and new funds understand the imperative this generation now raises. It’s time to step up and be counted for the future,” said Archambeau.
Within its network, Astanor counts entrepreneurs, impact investors, farmers, chefs, policymakers, food scientists and high-profile sector experts, such as Kathleen Merrigan, professor in the School of Sustainability and executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University (an Astanor Venture partner).
The background story of the opportunities to shift the economy is, by now, obvious. Multiple studies show greenhouse gas emissions are exploding, and some 70% of the world’s freshwater resources are consumed by agriculture. The earth’s soil is degrading -- fertile soil is being lost at a rate of 24 billion tonnes a year. Food waste is a huge issue and some 40% of food goes to waste; most fruit or vegetables have 15% fewer nutrients than they did in 1950.
Since its founding in 2017, Astanor has invested in more than 20 European and U.S. startups that are working to accelerate regenerative agriculture, innovate food production techniques and farming, as well as promote food culture and the enjoyment of food.
Portfolio companies include French insect farming pioneer Ynsect, in which Astanor is the lead investor; Infarm, the Berlin-based on-demand vertical farming company; La Ruche Qui dit Oui, a French farm to table supplier; and Notpla, a U.K.-based company seeking to eliminate plastics by creating a highly functional packaging material from seaweed. Similarly, California food waste reduction company Apeel created plant-based protection for fresh fruit and vegetables, allowing produce to stay fresh twice as long as without it.