LINCOLN/OMAHA, NEBRASKA, Sept. 8, 2021 — Today, Burlington Capital, along with partner Invest Nebraska, announced the launch and initial closing of a new venture capital seed fund, Burlington Capital Ag-Venture, focused on Midwest AgTech innovation. Burlington Capital Ag-Venture intends to raise $11 million and expects to do so with a final close at the end of the year. This new fund is being built from a producer-first and industry-first approach, with its investors and advisors being comprised of some of the most innovative farmers/producers, ag families, agribusinesses, and ag trade associations.
Burlington Capital Ag-Venture is taking advantage of compelling global trends, a push towards ag-innovation, and the lack of a leading Midwest AgTech seed fund, to launch this new platform. Additionally, Ag-Venture is a ground-breaking and unparalleled partnership between Burlington Capital and Invest Nebraska. Both organizations have strong Nebraska and Midwest roots with proven track records in the investment and in the development of agriculture, technology, and startups. These two groups bring complimentary experiences and skill sets that enhance the platform and maximize upside potential of the fund. “We are excited to be partnering with Invest Nebraska and other agriculture stakeholders in creating a new platform that will assist in the advancement of agricultural entrepreneurship in the Midwest.” said Lisa Roskens, Chairman and CEO for Burlington Capital
“There’s a graveyard full of AgTech companies from the last decade [that] have failed because of a lack of understanding of their customers: agriculture producers. Though Ag-Venture is not limited by geography, we intend to back founders who are not just technologists, but who are also producers, growers, and farmers,” said Ben Williamson, one of the Managing Directors of Burlington Capital Ag-Venture. “They have walked the fields and shaken the hands of those across the backbone of America. These founders do not just speak the language, they deeply understand the customer and their problems, and they are rolling up their sleeves to fix them.”
The Midwest US is the richest region in the world with respect to agricultural land and production. Take Nebraska as an example. It is ranked first across the nation in beef product exports, commercial red meat production, Great Northern bean production, and popcorn production. The state’s diverse and productive landscape creates strong opportunity. Farms and ranches use 92% of Nebraska’s total land area. Nebraska also ranks in the top five in the nation for production of corn, soybean, pinto bean, millet, sorghum, alfalfa, sugar beet, bison, eggs and pork. Williamson identified the strength of the region, while also talking about how this information could be translated, “We have a truly incredible amount of generational and institutional knowledge around agriculture in this part of the country, and sadly, it has historically gone underutilized in terms of that trickling down into AgTech startups in the region. We’re going to help change that.”
But this fund isn’t just about Nebraska – the Midwest is full of other states whose agriculture backgrounds compare to Nebraska. To compete with coastal tech investing, the region and its strong industries (such as agriculture) must take a regional approach. And while the Midwest captures ~50% of the nation’s agriculture receipts, there is very little venture capital dedicated to AgTech here. Similarly, AgTech investing has lagged when compared to other industry segments. While GDP related to ag and food hovers around 10%, the sector only receives about 2% of venture funding.
“Burlington Capital Ag-Venture will consist of active and like-minded investors who are interested in providing capital as well as guidance to help these companies and develop and support a larger, more robust AgTech ecosystem. Ultimately, Burlington Capital Ag-Venture will take advantage of the region’s strong agriculture history, knowledge, partners, and innovation, to exponentially advance AgTech in Nebraska and the Midwest.,” said Mike Jung, Burlington Capital Ag-Venture’s other Managing Director and CEO of Burlington Capital International. “We’ve built a strong bench full of people from the front lines of agriculture across the Midwest who are eager to provide advice and be first-customers, advisors, and mentors to these entrepreneurs. Even more exciting, the next generation of agriculture is getting involved.”
The team at Burlington Capital Ag-Venture is confident they can develop this platform to serve as a catalyst in strengthening and broadening the AgTech ecosystem in the Midwest to ultimately plant the flag and become the global leader in AgTech innovation. Over the next five years, Burlington Capital Ag-Venture will invest in a diversified portfolio of seed stage AgTech companies across the entire ag and food value chain. The fund intends to partner with many local, regional, and national AgTech accelerators and incubators, especially The Combine, Invest Nebraska’s AgTech incubator.
About Burlington Capital: Burlington Capital is an alternative investment management firm that creates and pursues innovative business ventures through its experience, knowledge, and relationships in the areas of real estate, international agribusiness, and private equity. Since 1984, Burlington Capital has successfully developed and managed many unique business opportunities for institutional, private, and public partners.
About Invest Nebraska Corporation: Invest Nebraska has deep experience investing in, supporting, and growing early stage and lower middle market companies. Invest Nebraska is committed to growing Nebraska’s economy by assisting entrepreneurs and investing capital in those innovative companies that have growth potential and by collaborating with founders, other investors, strategic partners, state and local government, ecosystem builders, communities, and post-secondary education institutions.