Venture capital fund established for innovative food companies

The federal crown corporation Export Development Canada has announced a $7.5 million contribution to a venture capital fund that specializes in investing in “innovative” food companies.

Avrio Ventures Ltd. Partnership, a Canadian-based fund, invests in food and agricultural companies “that provide solutions to global challenges in areas of health, wellness and sustainability,” says a July 26 announcement.

EDC communications official Phil Taylor said that the money will be there for Avrio II to use whenever it finds a company that has an attractive agricultural business plan and needs more equity to get off the ground.

The corporation statement about the agriculture-targeted investment suggested it would be aimed at companies in emerging food-use fields — advanced agriculture, organic, bio-products, biotechnology, organic products, food safety systems and functional foods.

“We recognize the competitive advantages Canadian companies have in the space and see many applications in high-growth emerging markets,” EDC official Alison Nankivell said in the announcement statement.

Taylor said the venture capital fund managers can “draw down” the EDC commitment whenever they find a domestic company that is a solid prospect. There is no time limit.

He said EDC will become involved in direct investment if the target company is foreign or multinational.

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