Investors Ploughed at least $700m into Agricultural Tech Companies in 2017

Chloe Cornish reported today at The Financial Times Online that, “More money went into funding agricultural technology start-ups last year than the previous two combined, as battle lines were drawn between traditional ‘big ag’ companies and some of the Silicon Valley venture capitalists looking to upend the multibillion-dollar industry.

Investors ploughed more than $700m into agricultural tech companies in 2017, according to research firm CB Insights, a big step up compared with the $332m and $233m invested in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

“The spending splurge on start-ups using robotics or data science to make farming more efficient contrasts with the straitened financial situation in rural America.”

The FT article noted that, “The significant late-stage capital increases suggest the ag tech sector is maturing, says Rob LeClerc, co-founder and chief executive of AgFunder, a specialist research company. He points to a $203m series D fundraising round closed last month by Indigo Ag, a Boston company that wants to use microbes to improve plant health and crop yields.

But some start-ups are aiming more directly at making pricing for essential commodities such as seeds and fertilisers more transparent from the ‘big ag’ industry.

Nearly one quarter of 2017’s ag tech investments were made by corporations or their venture capital arms, including those of giants Monsanto and Syngenta, up 7 percentage points from 2016 — raising a question about whether ‘big ag’ will be friend or foe to the industry’s disrupters.”

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