Investing in horticulture: More than just money

Investing in horticulture: More than just money

GreenTech is shining a spotlight on the transitions happening in the world today. With numerous challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, and the need for more sustainable practices, the current food production systems are being greatly affected. In a series of articles, we will delve into the challenges and opportunities of these transitions in the horticulture industry. In this article we look at investments that are increasingly taking place in horticulture. What makes the sector so interesting for investors and how does an investor determine which product or company is interesting enough? We spoke with two different investors.

News reports about investments in horticultural companies and horticultural products have been appearing regularly lately. Startups and scale-ups, but also established companies in technology and greenhouse construction and even nurseries, are increasingly receiving funding from investors who see merit in their company or product. Such as Blue Radix, which has specialized in autonomous cultivation, or Corvus Drones, which develops drones for monitoring crops in the greenhouse. Both companies received an investment from Navus Ventures.

Food and energy

Navus Ventures is an independent family-funded Venture Capital firm, investing in startup and scaleup companies with long-term growth potential. The company emerged in 2013 as part of the Lely family office. Lely develops and produces innovative solutions for the agricultural dairy sector. “Apart from the family business, we use our background, knowledge, and skills by investing in innovative start-up companies. We focus on food and energy, where innovations in greenhouse horticulture are a main topic for us within food,” explains Investment Manager Jaap Zijlstra. “We have now made five investments in greenhouse horticulture technology and we will continue to focus on this in the coming years.”

Managing Director Eduard Meijer indicates that Navus Ventures was once set up to share the company's experience helping starting entrepreneurs bring their innovations to the market “Also, with the idea of possibly linking new developments to Lely or setting up new companies ourselves. However, in 2019 we chose to build a complete team around Navus Ventures and bring more focus. Lely has always been a top player in the field of patents and intellectual property. The company also has its own in-house patent office. We can use that very well with new investments to determine whether something is unique or not.” Navus Ventures chose not only to invest in companies with the aim of growing them in a short time and then selling them quickly. “Of course we want to make money, investing is not a hobby. But we also want to help make companies successful and make an impact in the world. We want to be able to work with companies for a longer period of time, this means investing in markets with a longer life cycle. This is how we ended up with our focus on the transition of food and energy. That development will still be going on in ten to fifteen years' time, which is why that sector suits us well.”

Add something to the company

Zijlstra: “We now have a broad network in Europe and are in contact with accelerators and incubators, with other investors and with knowledge institutions. This way we have a good overview of the developments that are taking place and entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly aware of where to find us.” Up till now, Navus Ventures has rarely approached companies herself it is usually the companies that contact us. We will then analyse such a company to build a relationship with management, determine whether the technology is interesting enough, how big the market is, how big the problem is that they solve, etc. But we also look at whether we can actively add something to that company based on our experience and network.” Because according to Meijer, investing is about more than just money at Navus Ventures. “There are different types of investors. Some only invest money and request a report every quarter. Instead, we try to be an actively involved investor. We will never sit in the entrepreneur's driver seat. But if things get exciting, you can sit in the passenger seat to help to guide the way. This support is highly appreciated by the companies we work with.”

Continue reading.

Author: Jacco Strating



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