Agri-food tech accelerator StartLife has partnered with Astanor Ventures, a venture capital fund uniquely focused on supporting and scaling disruptive solutions to some of the most urgent global needs in food and agriculture. Together they aim to maximize impact by helping start-ups grow internationally.
The partnership connects StartLife’s large network of startups with Europe’s largest impact investor in the sector, and facilitates an exchange of knowledge and expertise between the two entities. Based on campus at Wageningen University & Research, StartLife also provides a gateway to up-and-coming technologies and innovations in agtech and foodtech. Astanor is born in Europe, with offices in Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and the US, with a global reach throughout Europe and the United States as well as a presence in Australia. Astanor has raised over € 370 million to invest in impact-driven agri-food tech companies and has backed over 40 companies worldwide.
Wageningen at the center of the European agrifood ecosystem
“Wageningen is really the European center of food and agricultural development,” said Arnout Dijkhuizen, Investment Principal at Astanor. “We strongly believe in this ecosystem and the part that StartLife plays in it. There is also a lot of opportunity because of the European Union with its Farm to Fork strategy. We like to say we invest in the whole value chain, not just from farm to fork, but from soil to gut.”
Investment Relations Manager at StartLife, Lin Zhu said, “Astanor has significant influence in the field of sustainability, which matches our mission and vision as well, and obviously adds very good value to the StartLife ecosystem. For us, we wanted to not only expand the investor network with more international investors to match our startup portfolio, but also increase the knowledge in our network. We always try to create a close-knit community that can push the industry forward.”
Providing Agri-food tech solutions along the value chain
Both Astanor and StartLife are impact driven, meaning that all the companies they back must provide solutions to urgent social and environmental issues in the food and agriculture value chain. That could mean reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it could also be about improving biodiversity, conserving water, tackling societal issues for farmers, or improving health, for example.
“Agriculture has the ability to go beyond sustainability and become regenerative,” said Dijkhuizen. “Currently, we have a system that produces a lot of food but not necessarily in the right place or with the right nutritional profile. We focus on all the aspects of the value chain.”
From startup to scale-up
StartLife primarily targets early-stage companies in the sector, while Astanor’s focus is on taking them to the next level and helping them grow into mature companies. “We believe in impact through scale, which means the companies we support need to be for everyone and not just a select few,” Dijkhuizen said. “With our international presence we can also help these companies go further in their international development.”
“StartLife provides a safe environment between the startups and the investor,” added Zhu. “Both parties can be very honest about their expectations.”
Startups looking to connect with Astanor should get in touch with StartLife directly to arrange an introduction.
StartLife is Europe’s longest-running startup accelerator in agri-food tech, co-founded by Wageningen University & Research. Its mission is to empower founders to build and grow startups with breakthrough technologies that shape a sustainable food system. To this end, it provides a wide range of services, including business development support, top industry business mentors, access to funding and a global network. Since its inception in 2010, StartLife has supported 400+ startups that have raised €320 million follow-on capital thus far.
About Astanor Ventures
Astanor Ventures is an impact investor that backs ambitious entrepreneurs across the world with disruptive, scalable solutions that will create systemic change across the agri-food value chain. Astanor partners with founders who are committed to restoring balance and sustainability to the land and oceans, prioritizing nature and culture, nurturing change and feeding growth.