Global dairy cooperative Arla Foods is among the new investors in the fund
From left: Rockstart managing partner Mark Durno and Rune Theill, co-founder and chief executive

Rockstart, the Dutch accelerator and venture capital firm with a global footprint, has closed its AgriFood fund at €22 million with the participation of Vaekstfonden’s Green Future Fund alongside new informal investors such as Joke Pronk and longtime Rockstart investors Marcel Beemsterboer, Jasper de Rooij, Hans Maltha. Global dairy cooperative Arla Foods has also joined the LPs.

The fund’s close at €22 million exceeds its initial target and will allow Rockstart to further invest in top agritech and foodtech start-ups, and to continue to co-invest in its agrifood portfolio companies up to series B.

Rune Theill, co-founder and chief executive of Rockstart, said: “Rockstart is on a mission to empower the best in class founders to change the world for the better, which is why they are always at the core of our focus. Our passion is to create pathways and opportunities for talented founders and we do that with our domain focussed fund and ecosystem. With the AgriFood fund, we started a new chapter in empowering purpose-driven founders we invest in for the long-term.”

Rockstart funds the transformation to a regenerative and sustainable future by empowering founders to drive positive change at a global scale across three domains — agrifood, energy, and emerging technologies.

Its AgriFood fund backs impactful and scalable solutions led by passionate founders, leveraging emerging technologies and new business models that improve the food supply system from soil to gut.

Mark Durno, managing partner AgriFood at Rockstart, said: “Our global food industry is poised for an overdue transition to more sustainable and regenerative practices. The fact that industry leaders, such as Arla, Vaekstfonden and many others, put their faith in Rockstart by investing further in our AgriFood fund makes us even more optimistic that we can deliver on our mission – empower purpose-driven founders to drive positive change at a global scale.”

Rockstart AgriFood has invested in 20 start-ups since its launch in mid-2019. Rockstart AgriFood’s 2020 portfolio companies currently have a follow-on funding rate of over 70%, and the current portfolio has collectively raised more than €10 million in total.

Since its inception in 2011, Rockstart has invested in more than 250 start-ups and its alumni value to date is €1.2 billion.

Rockstart LPs

Vaekstfonden, the Danish Growth Fund, is the Rockstart AgriFood cornerstone investor and has supported the fund since before its initial close in 2019.

The extra commitment from Vaekstfonden comes from its Green Future Fund. The ambition is that Rockstart and Vaekstfonden will co-develop a framework for reporting on impact metrics while staying true to the belief that commercially viable businesses have the most potential to make a lasting positive impact.

Mikkel Hesselgren, senior vice-president, equity, at Vaekstfonden, said: “At Vaekstfonden we want to support and develop the sustainable companies of the future.Vækstfonden supported the establishment of Rockstart AgriFood with our investment back in the summer of 2019, which helped them open an office in Copenhagen.

Hesselgren noted that for the past two years, Rockstart has played a key role in developing sustainable food companies who have the potential of transforming the food and agriculture industry. “We are very pleased that Arla has also chosen to participate in this round. It is a huge opportunity to have such a strong player in the group of investors, and we look forward to work together towards a more sustainable future,” he added.

Arla Foods is one of the newcomers to Rockstart’s group of investors. Lars Dalsgaard, senior vice-president, product and innovation, said the company has decided to contribute to Rockstart AgriFood to further extend its innovation ecosystem.

Dalsgaard explained: “At Arla Foods, we have an ambitious climate target of reducing our CO2 emissions by 30% in 2030 and becoming carbon net-zero by 2050, while continuing to provide consumers all over the world with nutritious quality products.

“In order to deliver a strong contribution to a future-proof and sustainable food supply system we rely on collaboration with startups and other external partners to bring new solutions to our innovation eco system. Through startups, we get access to technologies and knowledge outside our own field of expertise, and we are looking very much forward to see where this will take us.”

The informal investors, who have also contributed to the fund’s close, are existing Rockstart investors with a strong position in the investment space and who once again reiterate Rockstart’s strong track record.

Date published: 4 May 2021

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