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Chinese food tech venture capital Bits x Bites has announced that it has raised US$30 million in the first close of its US$70 million fund investing in technologies that will help transform China’s agri-food supply chain. Investors backing Bits x Bites include Singapore sovereign fund Temasek and Henry Soesanto, the CEO of Philippine-based food giant Monde Nissin, among other conglomerates and family offices. The VC, which is the only of its kind dedicated to sustainable agri-food tech in mainland China, says it expects the final closing of the fund to come in the next months.
Bits x Bites, China’s pioneering food tech VC investing in early-stage startups developing solutions to food system challenges, has raised US$30 million in its first fund close. Investors include the Singapore government’s Temasek, Monde Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto, Singapore-based food tech investment firm Heritas Capital Management and several undisclosed family offices based in Asia specialising across different actors, from food to biosciences.
The China-focused VC also announced that Mojia Bio is the first portfolio company in the fund, whose proprietary bio-manufacturing technology increases production yield and limits the environmental impact of conventional chemical synthesis used to manufacture essential nutrients. Bits x Bites added that the fund has further deployed capital in its previous portfolio companies from follow-on investments, including in British gene-editing firm Tropic Biosciences and Israeli chickpea protein company InnovoPro.
With African Swine Flu, Covid, and uncertain trade relations, nothing else is more urgent in China today than growing the self-sufficiency and sustainability in food production.Matilda Ho, Founder & Managing Director, Bits x Bites
Looking ahead, Bits x Bites aims to back more early-stage Chinese and international entrepreneurs that are focused on the Chinese market and coming up with solutions for the Chinese food supply chain, including in precision agriculture, crop and animal health, alternative proteins and nutrition.
“With African Swine Flu, Covid, and uncertain trade relations, nothing else is more urgent in China today than growing the self-sufficiency and sustainability in food production,” said founder and managing director Matilda Ho.
“Whether it is a discovery platform for novel agri inputs, bio-manufacturing of high-demand functional ingredients, or machine learning for farm automation, these process innovations are vital for raising our food system’s productivity and improving the nutritional and safety performance of our food product.”
The latest news comes on the heels of Bits x Bites’ earlier announcement of a new platform called the China Food Tech hub, which aims to facilitate cooperation between startups and big industry players to overcome challenges and create solutions for the Chinese market. It has already attracted the participation of more than 10 multinational firms, including some of the biggest food conglomerates such as General Mills, Danone, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Givaudan and Nutreco.
Without investment in upstream innovation, we won’t see meaningful improvement in farm production efficiency to sustain the rapidly growing food demand.Matilda Ho, Founder & Managing Director, Bits x Bites
In anticipation of the final closing of the US$70 million fund in the coming months, Ho believes that the investment will be key to support the much-needed movement towards a more crisis-resilient and sustainable food system.
“China has built a vast digital ecosystem with impressive e-grocery and food delivery penetration, and these downstream platforms have been driving food and retail investment in China,” she explains.
“However without investment in upstream innovation, we won’t see meaningful improvement in farm production efficiency to sustain the rapidly growing food demand. And without biotech and ingredient innovation midstream, food products will fall short of consumers’ expectation in nutrition, clean label, taste, value, and transparency.”
Lead image courtesy of Bits x Bites.