Supporting investment into UK AgriFood in 2023
In recent years Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN have prioritised building momentum within the AgriFood investment ecosystem as private investment is often essential to help fast track innovative projects in their own right, or in tandem with public funding.
From October 2022 to March 2023, Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN have been supporting a cohort of 24 innovative UK SMEs to hone their skills in communicating their investment opportunity to investors and build investor relationships through our Sustainable Food Investment Readiness Programme. This programme followed on from the highly successful 2019 Investor Readiness Bootcamp, 2019 Investor Showcase and 2021 Series A Investor Partnership Programme.
The Sustainable Food Investment Readiness Programme 22/23 was highly inclusive, supporting the passion and commitment from company founders, CEOs and CTOs across AgriTech, sustainable protein, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), precision farming and low emission food production. The companies involved were at varying stages of development, from start-ups looking for seed investment to more established businesses at Series A level.
Companies selected for the programme were interested in scaling the production of their innovative solutions to key AgriFood sector issues. These included: robots and sensor platforms to address labour shortages and enable better on-farm data collection, glass coatings and active material filters to control natural light and heat in commercial greenhouses for efficient energy use, bacteriophage feed ingredients to combat livestock disease, lab-grown and plant-based alternative protein systems and a variety of biostimulant technologies to improve crop performance.
In addition to training and mentorship from the Innovate UK KTN AgriFood and Investment teams, this year’s programme was supported by Will Hill from Stronger Stories. Will gave expert advice on how storytelling techniques can improve the power of a pitch. Another highly regarded new addition to the programme was a series of ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions from Mountside Ventures, covering topics from financial forecasting and company valuation to term sheets and investor communications.
The programme culminated in the Sustainable Food Investment Showcase in March in London, bringing the SME cohort together with a selected pool of investors with credibility, capability, capacity, and appetite to invest in innovative, technology-led businesses. Of the 24 companies in the programme, 14 were selected to present a 7 minute investment pitch and one-page investment summary to 25 investment companies who attended the showcase. It was fantastic to see lively discussion and networking into the evening hours, with the SMEs taking advantage of the opportunity to build investor relationships and make use of connections made within the cohort.
The showcase was well timed with the launch of two opportunities for investors to apply to partner with Innovate UK and invest in innovative SMEs aligned with grant funding: the Future Economy Investor Partnership Programme and the Novel low-emission food production systems: Investor Partnership.