Let’s Make Food Systems Future Friendly
Food systems were already undergoing a meaningful change at the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, further accelerating a generational shift. Most significantly, it was prompted by the severe supply chain vulnerabilities laid bare during the pandemic, including labour shortages and logistics standstill.
Layer on depleting natural resources, worsening climate conditions, and an ever-increasing need for nutrition — a perfect storm emerges. Furthermore, supply chain inefficiencies cause approximately 14 percent of harvested food to be lost before it reaches the consumer. The grass is not so green after all.
On the brighter side, all of this has spurred opportunities for agriculture and supply chains across the world. Globally, agri-food tech startups saw an investment of a whopping US$51.7 billion in 2021; 85 percent more than in 2020. This year, in Canada alone, the total dollars invested in agribusiness tech is 47 per cent more than it was in 2020 with 23 deals worth $121 million being struck just in the first half.
Trends and Tailwinds
The future looks bright for venture capital (VC) firms eager to expand their footprint into the agri-food tech ecosystem. Supply chain actors, from input retailers to grocers, are embracing innovation in the sector, signaling a broader market size and adoption potential, and there are technology and regulatory tailwinds accelerating the success of startups. One of the biggest enablers is the collection and use of data from the farm to the retail shelf, bringing in better yields, reduced spoilage, and complete traceability.
Expect a boom in efficiency with the use of IoT endpoints, platforms and applications — supported by 5G speeds and deep learning. They serve as springboards for precision supply chains, with optimized trade exchange, processing, and retailing of food products.
We are on a Mission
Even with the signs of greater returns, only a fraction of venture capital is currently funneled to agri-food. However, TELUS Ventures plans to tap deeper into future innovation leaders, in keeping with TELUS’ broader social purpose to bring about a better world through nourishing, sustainable and adaptive food production and distribution.
TELUS’ objective in getting into this space is to connect each piece of the agriculture value chain to empower farmers and ranchers, the agribusiness industry, and agri-food, consumer goods and retail companies to leverage advanced data systems and artificial intelligence to streamline operations, improve food traceability, and provide consumers with fresher and healthier food.
For its part, TELUS Ventures invests in innovative early and growth-stage companies globally. Our agtech portfolio ranges widely from livestock business management software, which helps ranchers monitor and monetize methane emissions, to a B2B online marketplace connecting farmers and buyers for surplus and imperfect produce.
We are flexible in how we operate. We go in on funding from Seed to Series D, and we both lead as well as participate in syndicates. Critically, our differentiation is in the commercial value that comes with the investment.
Moving Beyond Just Dollars
“We add value to our portfolio companies.” This VC cliché is often unmoored from reality. But not for us. TELUS Ventures contributes value-added investment dollars.
Commercial synergy is baked into our investment-review process. So, we invest in startups that are likely to have a strong commercial or technology match with one of TELUS’ business units in the near to medium future. Consequently, we serve as a sizable customer, technology partner or significant go-to-market channel partner for many of the companies in our portfolio.
If you are an innovative startup looking for strategic investment or an investor with interest in any of our four investment verticals, we want to hear from you. Learn more at telus.com/ventures.