AgriFood Investment Readiness Programme
For UK SMEs working on AgriFood innovations and looking for private investment.
About the programme
Supporting the AgriFood community in the UK when it comes to securing private investment is a priority for the Innovate UK Business Connect AgriFood team. This is because private investment is often essential to help fast-track innovative projects, in its own right or in tandem with funding from organisations like Innovate UK.
Our AgriFood Investment Readiness Programme supports UK SMEs who want to secure private investment to boost their AgriFood innovation.
The programme includes:
- In-person and online investment pitch training
- Mentorship from the Innovate UK Business Connect AgriFood team
- An opportunity to pitch to selected investors.
The AgriFood Investment Readiness Programme is funded by Innovate UK and delivered by Innovate UK Business Connect.
The AgriFood Investment Showcase
After a number of training activities over the course of a few weeks, the cohort goes through a ‘Pitch Selection Day’ where a panel of investment experts decide which companies are ready to pitch to investors at our Investment Showcase Event.
The Investment Showcase is the final step in the Programme – an important opportunity for SMEs to gain investor interest and start building investor relationships. The event also benefits investors as they are presented with a curated and well-prepared pool of investment pitches from companies who understand investor needs and the investment environment. Those invited are selected from Innovate UK Business Connect’s community of over 100 investors who have demonstrated the credibility, capability, capacity, and appetite to invest in innovative, technology led AgriFood businesses.
In addition to pitching their investment proposition to a curated audience, networking with the investors at the showcase provides participants access to commercial acumen like leadership, market understanding, skills and resources.
“The showcase event was an interesting opportunity to learn about what is coming out of the universities, while getting to know some of the UK founders and investors in the Food and Ag space. I think the Innovate UK program provides an excellent platform for F&A Investors and founders to meet and is highly beneficial [to] UK AgriFood Innovation. Both the quality and content of the pitches I heard during the day were very good, particularly given the early stage in which most of the companies are.”
— Tobin Wiersum, VC Investor, Rabo Investments (attended the 2023 Investment Showcase)
The companies that have taken part
In 2022, the Programme focused on Sustainable Food innovation, and more specifically on AgriTech, sustainable protein, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and low emission food production systems.
Developing an AI- digital manufacturing platform to unlock the potential of cell cultivation.
AI+ agri-robot and technology platform makes digitised precision farming available for all.
Effectively destroying bacterial pathogens in livestock without using antibiotics.
Oceans can’t produce more marine ingredients to support aquaculture growth, we can.
Helping growers to adapt to and reverse the effects of climate change, starting with the $450bn wine industry.
FLOURISH guides microbiomes to improve disease control and boost crop performance, naturally.
Increasing farmer’s profitability and reducing agriculture’s climate impact using sunlight and nanotechnology.
Lambda’s sunlight-optimising material increases red light-enhancing plant yield by 20%.
MuddyMachines’ robots sustainably fix field labour shortages, so growers survive and Thrive.
Quest Meat creates low-cost ingredients to make cultivated meat faster and cheaper.
Rootiful – a new centre plate plant-based food option. Healthy, localised ingredients and Tasty.
Unlocking the regenerative value in organic waste with our patented, scalable technology.
Boosting crop yields, slashing energy costs, eliminating chemicals through high-tech seed treatments.
The 2021 Cohort focused on high-growth UK AgriTech SMEs working to transform food production towards net zero emissions.
Our AgriFood team worked closely with the SMEs selected to give them the best chances of success. A key part of this was a four-week Investor Readiness Bootcamp, including guidance on investor readiness fundamentals from Innovate UK Business Connect staff members and external experts. It included two panels with investors who were part of the selected pool of investors for the programme. They discussed their investment philosophies, what they are looking for when they invest, common pitfalls and more.
The AgriFood team also gave the SMEs individual feedback on their pitches, and shared all the pitches with the investors to spark conversations.
Our Investment Readiness Programme used to be called the AgriTech Investment Showcase and ran successfully for four years.
During that time, out of 41 investment deals in the UK AgriFood sector, 51% of them involved someone who has taken part in the AgriTech Investment Showcase. They raised almost £28m of the total £87m reported investment deals in the sector (Source: Beauhurst).
“The Innovate UK Business Connect AgriTech Showcase was a great event for Stable. We received a great deal of support to perfect our pitch, which paid real dividends on the day as 9 investors contacted us immediately after the event.”
— Richard Counsell, CEO of Stable (2017 participant)
“Great opportunity to pitch to targeted investors who understand the space you’re working in. Innovate UK Business Connect did a really good job of getting everyone pitch-ready as well, significant improvements made over the course of the training!”
— Beta Bugs (2018 participant)
“In 2018, we presented at the showcase and were in the final negotiations for funding from a VC. Unfortunately, we did not get that funding, but presence at the showcase was helpful to establish credibility. In 2019, we used the investment showcase as a chance to kick start interest in our crowd funding activities, with a similar result in terms of credibility and validation.”
— Ben Scott-Robinson, Co-founder of Small Robot Company (2018 participant)
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.
Accelerating AgriTech adoption in the UK
AgriTech may unlock the key to some, if not all, of the challenges currently facing the British food system, but without adoption, the industry will fall short in realising the potential that innovation can bring.