Mandalay Venture Partners raises $16.8M for agrifood tech VC Mandalay Fund I

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Mandalay Venture Partners raises $16.8M for agrifood tech VC Mandalay Fund I
Mark Gustowski, Al Fullerton, Timothy Hui and Philippe Ceulen

Mandalay Venture Partners has raised $16.8 million for its sustainability focused agrifood tech venture capital fund Mandalay Fund I.

NRMA, NOVONIX co-founder and former CEO Phillip St Baker, and PCS Capital CEO Angus Cameron backed the raise, with a further $5 million in “strong verbal commitments”.

Mandalay Fund I will seek to support early-stage and growth start-ups from farm-to-fork, including carbon sequestration, on-farm efficiencies, supply chain automation, autonomous vehicles, future foods, e-commerce and e-grocery platforms, the company said.

According to Al Fullerton, managing partner at Mandalay Ventures, “Australia’s agricultural industry is predicted to exceed $100 billion in value by 2030 and significant investment in innovation, technology and efficiency is required for Australians to sustainably lead this market.

“Our mission is to invest in agtech and food tech companies, that have the capability to sustainably and efficiently feed the world’s growing population.”

Fullerton said that Mandalay Fund I will leverage both Commonwealth and state government investments in agtech hubs, smart farms and research centres.

“This is an area that is not only desperately needed to secure the future of our food supply, but it is highly relatable. We all eat. We all get it. Australians are renowned for agriculture and innovation so it is a sector that we’re comfortable with. The fact that such a large and well-respected Australian institution like NRMA has come out of the gate so early to back us, drives home the need and confidence in this growing sector,” he said.

NRMA’s head of investments Ainsley Lee said that the company was impressed with the Mandalay management team’s investment track record.

“We are highly focused on investing in areas of impact while helping to address sustainability, especially if we can support regional and rural parts of Australia,” she said.

Of the early-stage investments that the Mandalay team has backed, some of the success stories include Lyres Non-Alcoholic Spirts, last valued at $500m, Trademark Vision, sold to Clarivate Analytics, and FUL Foods.

“We are finding more and more interest from a broad range of investors in agrifood tech. This includes family offices, institutions, high net worth individuals and industry bodies. But what we are finding most exciting is the interest from food and farming families to participate in a sector close to their heart and their life’s work”, Fullerton said.

According to Mark Gustowski, partner at Mandalay Ventures, “With food security, availability, provenance and traceability becoming critical globally, investors are increasingly looking at Australia as a provider of secure, safe and innovative systems and services, and a stepping stone to the Asian markets.

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