The European Innovation Council (EIC), via its Investors Programme, enables and supports valuable matchmaking opportunities between EIC beneficiaries and financial and business partners to achieve sustainable growth. Resulting from the EIC ePitching on AgriTech initiative in spring 2021, Swiss AgTech company AgroSustain closed a Series A deal with top investor BayWa.
The EIC’s Investors Programme supports SMEs and promotes sustainable innovation and growth across all EIC beneficiaries by connecting them with crucial investors to potentiate successful matchmaking situations. A clear example of that occurred during the EIC ePitching on AgriTech event in spring 2020, where the highly innovative Swiss AgTech company AgroSustain – leader in the development of sustainable crop protection solutions – cemented the interest of an already interested investor named BayWa – a leading company in segments of energy, agriculture, and construction.
Founded in 2018, AgroSustain is a one-stop-shop solution for biological plant protection. It aims to reduce food waste and support organic food production by developing farm to fork solutions, like biological fungicides and coatings. AgroSustain’s sustainable and AgTech-friendly ways resonated with Marion Meyer, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at BayWa who had previous talks with the startup. Marion Mayer recalled how the interaction with AgroSustain happened and emphasized the importance of good preparation and being on the investors’ radar even when you are already in discussions with them:
“The first time we heard about AgroSustain was via earlier EIC events. We have had many interactions with Olga before the event that led to this investment (the EIC ePitching on Agritech), so that wasn’t the first opportunity to see her in action. We met her in early 2020 and have had productive discussions since then. Let’s face it, the better you present a company and its business, the faster you can choose to work with partners. The starting point was the fresh produce area where we conducted talks and testing aligned with our food business. All this helped locate problems that could be related to the product value chain and help achieve better ways to avoid food risk production. Which leads us to understanding the IP, the team, the financials, etc. So, after taking all these factors into consideration, we decided to participate in the funding round.”
Fundraising is crucial for fast-growth startups. “It was part of AgroSustain’s Series A round that permitted us to boost commercial traction for our first product and for setting production facilities. Having strategic investors was great support and gave us added value too. Therefore, this deal was very important for us, and we were happy to succeed on this matter.”
Preparation is key
All EIC beneficiaries are appointed business coaches to help prepare them for pitchings, negotiations and other aspects of attracting new investments. Kaija Pöysti, one of the EIC business coaches that worked with Olga and AgroSustain wasn’t surprised that AgroSustain managed to close this deal. “I had a delightful pitching coaching session with AgroSustain. They had an interesting solution and a good pitch to start with. I think that during the coaching we were able to crystallize their strengths and develop the pitch so that it told a compelling story to the investors. As an entrepreneur and investor myself I have learned how important it is to focus on the key advantages to the customer and investor in the pitch, and leave the more technical details to the 1-on-1 meetings afterwards. I am very happy to hear that AgroSustain got an investment.”
With the current collaboration for joint pilots in place, the business relations between the two companies have advanced positively, as explained by Marion:
“We are in constant contact with Olga and AgroSustain. We continue having discussions regarding the development of the company – especially during the pandemic times – to see how things are going. We are seeing them as a good partner for the future.”
Olga has a clear opinion about the benefit of Investor Programme for other EIC innovators:
“Number one is credibility, and number two is having access to a very extensive network of institutional and corporate investors for SMEs. The EIC gives companies the chance of having access to these services that can potentially facilitate market access by attracting new clients and investors, and when you begin your journey and know it can take quite some time to achieve success it’s great to have this type of support.”
AgroSustain has been an EIC beneficiary since 2018, receiving a Phase 1 grant of 50.000 €. In 2021 they were rewarded with a phase 2B grant worth a total of 2.492.875 €. AgroSustain is a one-stop-shop solution for biological plant protection. It aims to reduce food waste and support organic food production by developing farm to fork solutions, like biological fungicides and coatings. Their mission is to ensure access to healthy food for everyone. AgroSustain crop protection products harness the power of nature to enhance the quality of fruits and vegetables. All their products are 100% natural and leave no residues. AgroSustain’s research team comprises highly qualified PhDs with expertise in fields as diverse as chemistry, plant biochemistry, and molecular and evolutionary biology. Apart from this, they work closely with and are supported by top-level institutions, such as the University of Lausanne and Agroscope, the Swiss research center for agriculture.
BayWa is a globally active group with the business units Energy, Agriculture and Building Materials. As a global player, it develops leading projects and solutions for the basic human needs of food, energy, and building. The headquarters of the parent company, which was founded in 1923, are in Munich. Traditionally, the core markets are in southern Germany and Austria, but BayWa’s international expansion has increased significantly in recent years, as part of our growth strategy. However, BayWa has since grown to become the largest agricultural trader in Germany and is one of the leading agricultural commodities trading companies in the world. The Renewable Energies business unit (BayWa r.e. AG) has become an important mainstay.
About the EIC Business Acceleration Services – Investor Programme
This opportunity is brought to you by the EIC Business Acceleration Services. The EIC Business Acceleration Services – Investor Programme is connecting EIC beneficiaries with the most prominent European Business Angels, VCs and CVCs. EIC beneficiaries can participate in monthly ePitching events or larger EIC Investor Day with the opportunity to showcase their innovations in pitching competitions and meet investors in private one-to-one meetings. To explore other opportunities to connect with investors in Europe, keep an eye on our events page.