July 26, 2023

Hear about the Past, Present and Future of AgTech Investing

Here are a few of my key bullet points from the Todd-versation podcast:

1) AgriFoodTech saw a huge run up to $50B in annual venture investment over the past decade because there was an opportunity to solve real and ongoing challenges for farmers around labor, water, food safety and inputs.

2) Things cooled off in 2022 to $30B because the two largest segments─CEA and alt-protein (42% of that $50B above)─ran into some major challenges for the same reasons. The hype factors went into over-drive and investors did not do enough due diligence (my phone and folks like me should have been a lot busier). This ran and will continue to run investors off, so we’ll see what happens to that $30B this year─does it go up or down?

3) One of the emerging hot spaces is biological solutions to help reduce use of chemical inputs. This solves real problems related to sustainability and environmental impacts, and the biological solutions are coming out of the lab and into commercialization at some scale, but they are not ready to take over the world. So with the recent learning from CEA and alt-protein, one of the big challenges is to prevent the hype factor around biological solutions so that the collective AgTech ecosystem doesn’t waste another round of large investments. This means we need to field trial a lot of these solutions to prove correlation, causation and minimal unintended consequences, while really working hard to get the “bugs in a jug” crowd identified and either pivoted or unable to raise more funds (sorry, harsh but true). The biological space is one of the most interesting to me, but we have to do a better job of managing the growth than we did with both CEA and alt protein (and making sure they are solving real problems the right way).

Listen to this episode of Todd-versation here or watch it on Youtube here.