Accelerator and investment company, Sprout, is once again looking for cutting edge startups in the AgTech and FoodTech ecosystem to register for business acceleration, mentorship and the opportunity for investment.

Startups creating innovative solutions in the agrifood value chain from on-farm through to human health are encouraged to register for Sprout’s Accelerator. Between eight and 10 New Zealand startups will be selected to join.

The accelerator offers world class business coaching, mentoring, network access, underground events and summits held around New Zealand. International startups are also invited to apply and if travel restrictions allow, some may be accepted into the Accelerator. 

This is the second of two cohorts for 2021, the first being from February to April, and the second from July to September, and Sprout’s now inviting entrepreneurs in the agtech and foodtech sectors to register for the July cohort.

Sprout itself has undergone some major changes to their business model this year, maturing into an independent company, moving out from solely operating under umbrella company, The Factory. 

While The Factory remains a shareholder in the business, Sprout has also brought new shareholders on board – from New Zealand’s own Fonterra and AGMARDT, to Israeli equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd and Finistere Ventures, a San Diego-based leading global agricultural technology and life sciences venture capital investor.

Sprout agritech CEO Gil Meron

Sprout CEO, Gil Meron.

Sprout CEO Gil Meron, says the accelerator is at a transition point as it opens the door to further international opportunities with the help of the new investors.

“When we were looking at international investors to bring on board, we were seeking relationships that could provide connections and accelerate our start-ups into global networks. We wanted experienced investors, people who are aligned with Sprout’s vision of building a healthy AgTech and FoodTech ecosystem in New Zealand and bring their own deep knowledge of these sectors to the table.

“We’re really excited about the investment and network resources we will be able to provide to the 2021 Sprout cohorts and we can’t wait to see what these startups are capable of with the added support and access to resources,” Meron says. 

For the first time, companies accepted into the accelerator with a higher investment proposition will be given the chance to receive additional investment directly from Sprout. Companies who are at seed stage with less than $1 million in revenue will be considered for investment by Sprout.

AgTech and FoodTech startups have benefitted from the accelerator since 2015 with alumni raising a total of $15M in capital, going on to grow their revenue by 400% and raising USD$1.35M in seed round capital.

Greg Peyroux, managing director and co-founder of artificial intelligence and machine learning specialist Iris Data Science completed the Sprout Accelerator in August 2020 and found the experience invaluable. 

Dunedin-based Iris Data Science creates innovative products, providing services for the agricultural and horticultural sectors and is the creator of the world’s first sheep facial recognition software SheepNN.

“From the accelerator, I learnt to leave no stone unturned when it comes to discovering and understanding your customers and your market. Learning about the investment process was also highly valuable. The mentors were fantastic – with their support we worked out what market to consider and the actions to take to attract investment.

“Gaining access to the accelerator’s partner and broader network has also been invaluable. We are now actively developing prototypes and setting up multiple pilots on farms around the country,” Peyroux says. 

Oxana Krutilina, co-founder and CEO of Auckland-based Sea Swell, a plant-based seafood product alternative designed to help boost the ocean’s depleting fish population, says she owes everything to the Sprout Accelerator. 

“I went into the accelerator with just an idea and passion behind me, and the mentors have helped me create a strong business model. Everything I have achieved with Sea Swell is because of the Sprout Accelerator – I learned everything from them.

“The mentors helped me understand the importance of fundamental business strategy and planning,” explains Krutilina.

The accelerator gave Krutilina confidence in her idea, and she says without the mentors, she would have struggled to make important business connections and decisions on her own. 

“The relationship with your mentors is ongoing, it doesn’t end when the accelerator finishes and I believe these relationships will be beneficial for years to come. It’s been such a great opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and share ideas about all aspects of business,” she says. 

Registrations for the Accelerator close on 4th June. Register your interest for the 2021 Sprout Accelerator at www.sproutagritech.com