UK 'leading the way' for global agri-tech investments

Companies headquartered in the UK and mainland Europe have attracted over 43% of global investment in agri-tech
Companies headquartered in the UK and mainland Europe have attracted over 43% of global investment in agri-tech

The UK and Europe are leading the way for global agri-tech investments, having received nearly £81 billion from over 1,700 investors, according to a new report.

The report has highlighted that global investment in agri-tech is growing, almost doubling to £100 billion between January 2020 and January 2021.

Since 2000 – when worldwide investment stood at less than £1 billion – companies headquartered in the UK and mainland Europe have attracted over 43% of global investment in agri-tech.

These 564 companies have received nearly £81 billion from over 1,700 investors.

The importance of agri-tech has been recognised by the UK government. At a recent conference in the US, Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “It is through science, innovation and technology that our farming industry will continue to be sustainable.”

Looking at the UK’s ambitions, Innovate UK comes joint top globally for the number of agri-tech companies invested in, tying with Horizon 2020 and SVG Venture-THRIVE.

It is also the number one investor in Europe, highlighting the UK’s impact on the sector.

The report on agri-tech investment was created by IP specialists GovGrant, to discover the global hotspots attracting capital to the sector.

The UK specialises in indoor farming and animal agri-tech, which accounts for around 40%of its investment, whereas in Europe or globally, they make up under 10%.

With significant expertise in these areas, the report says there is 'great potential' for UK growth and differentiation in indoor farming and animal agri-tech.

Animal agri-tech concentrates on solutions to monitor, analyse and optimise animal health and production. It also explores animal substitution through alt proteins.

Indoor farming, meanwhile, involves components, systems and growers that are all focused on farming indoors, including tech contributing to vertical farming, aquaponics and hydroponics.

London-based Vertical Future raised the largest-ever series A investment for a European indoor farming company: £21 million, which included participation from SFC Capital.

Adam Simmonds, research associate at GovGrant, said the rise in UK agri-tech investment in recent years was 'nothing short of remarkable'.

"As the world faces surging food demand, it’s also becoming increasingly urgent to curb emissions from food production," he explained.

"This combination of factors only makes the case for agri-tech more compelling, so we can expect even more investment."

Mr Simmonds said venture capital would account for most of the early investment, particularly for agri-tech startups.

"Then, private equity investors will come on board to help thriving companies grow," he added.

And as agri-tech becomes ever more vital and goes more mainstream, many agri-tech companies will be listed on stock exchanges.

"It all points to more-than-healthy growth for the sector," Mr Simmonds said, adding that in the UK, indoor farming and animal agri-tech would be at the forefront.