(AgFunder) NXTP and its venture partner Tokai Ventures will accept 10 to 20 start-up companies from Argentina and Uruguay to participate in its six week agtech accelerator program. They will invest between US$25k and US$150k into each company that can be from a variety of sectors including biotech, decision support technology, drones and robotics, food e-commerce, IT applications, big data, analytics and AI, soil and crop technology, risk management, and sustainable materials
NXTP Labs, one of the most active early stage investment funds in Latin America, is launching the region’s first agtech accelerator.
Agtech startups in Latin America have been few and far between with just US$4.1 million raised by eight startups in 2015 compared to the US$4.6 billion global total, according to AgFunder data.
With such an enormous agriculture market in many of the region’s countries, this is surprising, but in some cases, such as Argentinian ag data company S4, technologies have been exported to the US to be closer to their investors.
Limited startup resources and funding options have been a challenge for agtech entrepreneurs in other parts of the world too, such as Australia and New Zealand where similarly, agtech startups have needed to find investment in the US to develop.
NXTP Labs, and its venture partner Tokai Ventures, is now accepting applications from startups in Argentina and Uruguay to take part in its six-week AgroTech Accelerator Program. The program is looking for startups in the following subsectors: biotech, decision support technology, drones and robotics, food e-commerce, IT applications, big data, analytics and AI, soil and crop technology, risk management, and sustainable materials. The deadline for applications is June 20, 2016.
NXTP Labs, which has invested in more than 160 companies over four years, has organized general accelerator programs in the past, providing coaching, training, consultancy services, seed funding, and investor networking. But the AgroTech program, along with the newly-launched FinTech Program, are the first time it’s focused on specific sectors.
“The venture capital industry in Latin America is still very generalist and we haven’t see much investment focused on specific verticals,” said Ariel Arrieta, CEO NXTP Labs. “But we see this is changing in the coming years as the market matures, and that’s why we’ve decided to launch programs in verticals.”
The agtech accelerator will accept 10 – 20 companies, which are set to be announced on July 4, and it will invest between US$25k and US$150k into each from NXTP’s fund. The fund will invest up to US$1 million in total in each company. Investors in the US$38.5 million fund include local entrepreneurs, governmental organizations, and Goldman Sachs.
NXTP Labs is now raising a second, larger, US$120 million fund, which it expects Goldman Sachs to invest in again, and it’s set to announce some large, international strategic investors too, according to Arieta. This larger fund will focus on Series A and Series B rounds, and will invest up to US$5 million in each company. Around 70% of this fund will invest in companies from its programs, Arrieta added.
The AgroTech program has had 200 applications already, although some have not been able to demonstrate their execution capabilities or an MVP (minimal viable product), while others already have revenues so are not suitable, according to Arrieta.
The program will provide each company with mentors from a network of 200 different mentors, who will help validate the business opportunity, and help them try to prove there is a market fit for their product. “We want them to prove they have a business model that works at small scale, so that we can reduce the risk to the next round of investors who will have proof that the business model works,” said Arrieta.
The program will culminate in a pitch event on August 9 in Uruguay and August 12 in Argentina.