Venture Capital

LaunchVic plants funding in new agtech sidecar fund

- August 24, 2023 2 MIN READ
Drone, farm, agriculture, agtech
Photo: AdobeStock
Victorian agtech startups have access to a new funding source with LaunchVic backing a new $1 million angel sidecar fund backed by Agriculture Victoria.

The Hugh Victor McKay Fund is named in honour of the inventor who patented the combine harvester in the 1880s, one of the most important agricultural innovations in recent history. 

The fund is hoping to back at least five early-stage startups over the next 12 months, investing between $100,000 and $200,000 in each one. 

The model is based on LaunchVic’s pioneering $2.5 million Alice Anderson Fund, which began in mid-2021, and will co-invest with private sector investors, who will match the government contribution by a minimum of 2:1 to leverage the capital raised. 

The Alice Anderson Fund backed 11 female-led startups in its first year.

Scale Investors cofounder Susan Oliver, who also chairs the Alice Anderson fund, will chair the agtech sidecar fund’s investment committee, joined by shilo.people cofounder Ilona Charles, Aultmore director Amanda Derham and rural VC Tenacious Ventures cofounder Matthew Pryor. They will meet bi-monthly to review applications.

Pryor said the fund would provide critical support for founders building the future of on-farm productivity and sustainability. 

“Early-stage ventures in agtech are often working with hardware and deep tech. These can be essential innovations in agrifood transition, since you can’t eat software,” he said

“The early stages of growth can be more capital intensive for these startups, so additional leverage on early capital is very catalytic.”

LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick urged the state’s agtech sector to take advantage of the array of support on offer, with the organisation also offering equity-free $50,000 grants to aspiring agtech founders.

The first seven grant recipients are: AEI, Boodbox, AirAgri, Ambit Robotics, Farmo, Mobble and Rubens Technologies

“Our work with Agriculture Victoria is particularly exciting in the holistic support we’re offering founders throughout their growth journeys,” Dr Cornick said. 

“Aspiring founders can undertake pre-accelerator programs to test their startup ideas, obtain a grant to build their capability and access seed funding when ready to scale.”

Details on the fund and grant program are available at launchvic.org/agtech