Investment

Family investment groups invest in environmentally friendly pesticides

Synthetic pesticides disrupt the complex web of life in our soils. That’s why a group of family offices are investing in firms that are working to secure more environmentally friendly pesticides.

Ordway Selections, the family office of Jonathan Ordway Fackelmayer, recently invested in Vestaron, a US manufacturer of environmentally friendly pesticides, alongside two other family groups Cavallo Ventures, the VC arm of family-owned agribusiness Wilbur-Ellis, and Fortistar, a privately-owned agricultural investment firm owned and founded by Mark Comora. Together, a total sum of $82 million was committed to the North Carolina-based business.

“Our food system is one of the largest human endeavours on earth and is in dire need of innovation and evolution,” Fackelmayer said in an interview with Family Capital. “We need to be considering ways to increase land yields in a sustainable way while rethinking the use of water, chemicals, and carbon footprints.”

Ordway Selections acted as lead investor in the latest fundraising round. The group is active in the VC space with exposure to over 18 different VCs that represent their three pillars of investment –Food & Agtech, Lifesciences & Health, and BlockChain & Digital Assets.

“Through our 18 VCs, we currently have an exposure to 300 companies,” Fackelmayer says. “We will choose 10-15% of those to do follow on capital (like Vestaron) and develop our direct portfolio (directly onto the cap table), ending up with about 30+ companies.”

Vestaron manufactures environmentally friendly pesticides called “peptides”. These are small,

naturally-occurring proteins that have proven modes of action, and therefore the same efficacy as traditional synthetic products, but offer the safety and environmental protection of biologicals.

The new funding will go towards investing in further R&D work and bringing products already in the pipeline to market. Vestaron’s scientists are the first to pioneer a game-changing new strategy for crop protection.

Looking ahead to the opportunities and challenges facing the sector, Fackelmayer says: “Agtech

remains specialised which means that the capital that is stimulating the sector’s growth is still very collaborative,” he says. “The opportunity remains the global scale and breadth of the problems in the food & agri system. Regulatory hurdles need to be navigated.”

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