Chinese agrifood tech VC raises millions, invests in feed, crop technology and protein portfolios

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Jackie Niam
© GettyImages/Jackie Niam

Related tags China Agtech Syngenta Cavallo Ventures Adisseo

Bits x Bites, China’s first agrifood tech VC, has completed the final close of its second fund, hitting US$100M, and exceeding its target previously announced with the first close in 2020.

The Shanghai-based fund has attracted a group of prestigious and vision-aligned backers.

New investors include industry leaders from Syngenta Group Ventures to animal nutrition company, Adisseo and Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis, along with Esco Lifesciences.

Also participating were DisruptAD, the venture platform of ADQ, based in Abu Dhabi, and other financial institutions and family offices. The company saw ongoing support from Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore.

When asked how Bits X Bites came to the attention of companies like Cavallo Ventures and DisruptAD, Matilda Ho, founder and managing director, Bits x Bites, told FeedNavigator:

“China’s agrifood supply chain is hungry for technology disruption. Bits x Bites is the first agrifood tech fund focusing on the Chinese market, and we are fortunate to have global investors who are supportive of our mission. They not only share our optimism for the growing startup ecosystem in China but also our belief that the time to invest in transformative technology is now.”

From feed additives to gene editing to cellular meat 

Bits x Bites invests across the food supply chain, from precision agriculture, crop and animal health to protein alternatives and nutrition. To date, it has invested in startups that are advancing gene editing for high-performing crops, agricultural drones, low-GI carbohydrates, as well as cost-efficient cell-based meat production without an actual animal. Altogether, Bits x Bites portfolios have raised in excess of $460m after its initial investments, according to the fund.

Since its first close, the agrifood tech VC outlined how it has invested in seven new portfolios advancing solutions to address challenges from agricultural input to farm automation to protein alternatives.

Four of the new portfolios are Chinese companies:

  • EAVision: An agricultural drone company specialized in autonomous crop protection particularly in mountainous farming and other complex terrains. Bits x Bites co-led the investment with Temasek and Chinese state-sponsored fund CITIC.
  • Mojia Bio: A biomanufacturing company producing nutrients for the feed and food industries. Its proprietary process is said to increase yield and limit by-product and environmental pollution associated with conventional chemical synthesis, fitting directly into China’s carbon neutrality goal for 2060.
  • A stealth mode precision agriculture company that has developed crop simulation models to help farmers boost yields, optimize inputs, and increase profits. It is China’s first company with a commercial crop growth model, an important step to increase production efficiency in agriculture, said Bits x Bites.
  • A stealth mode precision fermentation startup developing microbial protein for dairy and meat alternative applications. The company, said the agtech fund, was selected for its production technology to reduce product and environmental costs as well as its knowledge in downstream applications.

What made Mojia Bio appealing to Bits x Bites?

“China is one of the largest producers of nutrients for animal and human health. In the past few years, tightened environmental regulations for the domestic chemical production sector caused many companies to close, move, or seek alternative, more sustainable production methods.

“Mojia Bio seized this opportunity and developed a biomanufacturing process for making nutrients. Through its novel production method, it minimizes the environmental impact of chemical production, and all at the same enables a cost structure that makes it price competitive,” ​said Ho.

Focusing on pre-A to Series B companies, Bits x Bites says it annually screens close to 1,200 startups, roughly half of which being local Chinese companies.

With the new fund, Bits x Bites has also invested in several brand new international portfolios. They include Singapore’s Next Gen, the company behind TiNDLE plant-based chicken. Two herbicide discovery companies—MoA in the UK and Enko Chem in the US—combat the resistance and overuse of existing products, both particularly daunting challenges in Chinese agriculture, it noted.

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