A new venture capital fund focused on Canadian ag tech and agribusiness innovation was launched by Conexus Venture Capital Inc. on August 23.
The fund, called Emmertech, is funded in part by Libro Credit Union, the largest credit union in southwestern Ontario, and the credit union with the largest agriculture lending portfolio of any credit union in Canada.
Libro’s involvement means some of the investment will be directed to southwestern Ontario startups – companies that aren’t yet ready for traditional lending offered by financial institutions, says Conexus.
Emmertech reached an initial close of $45 million and expects to cross $60 million by the final close at the end of the year.
The fund also includes a $15 million investment from Innovation Saskatchewan.
Conexus says that private capital funding is limited in the ag tech space, with Canada’s share of global agtech investments being only 3.4 per cent. Additionally, only 11 per cent of Canadian agriculture research and development comes from privately funded sources, Conexus says.
“We’re breaking the old-fashioned stereotypes about anyone who works in the agricultural sector. Ag has always innovated to improve profitability, animal welfare and introduce more sustainable practices as a few examples,” says Steve Bolton, Libro’s CEO and president. “This generation is expected to be better prepared and willing to harness new technology on their farms. We’re supporting a shift in Canadian agtech to a younger, more tech-savvy farmer. This is going to fundamentally change how farming operations are conducted.”
The new fund is built with an industry-first approach, and includes:
- Connect First Credit Union;
- The Co-operators Group;
- Gulf and Fraser Fishermen’s Credit Union;
- Innovation Credit Union;
- UNI Financial Cooperation; and,
- Interior Savings Credit Union