Round A led by United Ventures is to date one of the most relevant funding in the European agtech sector and will support the xFarm team in developing solutions for the 4.0 agri-food industry
Milan, 4th December 2019 – United Ventures SGR SpA, independent venture capital firm specialising in the software and digital technology sectors, announces Series A investment of €3 million in the agtech startup xFarm. The Swiss fund TiVenture SA is also taking part in the funding round.
xFarm is a SaaS platform that aims to facilitate the digitalization of farms, simplifying data collection and analysis, reducing bureaucracy, improving the efficiency and sustainability of agricultural fields and allowing the traceability of agricultural products. The modular, open platform is based on a freemium business model that integrates cloud-based management software, field IoT sensors and a marketplace with high value-added services such as irrigation optimization solutions, agro-meteorological forecasts, disease alerts and precision farming services.
The investment will allow xFarm to consolidate its presence on the Italian market and expand into international markets with particular attention to Europe, South America and Africa; as well as to strengthen the technology platform (especially in the area of artificial intelligence applied to data and forecasting models, also using blockchain technology) and release new modules to customers that can simplify and enhance the management of agricultural fields.
The need for optimization of the agri-food industry is made increasingly urgent by the progressive increase in the world population, which will rise from 7 billion people in 2017 to 9.7 billion by 2050: according to FAO-OECD analysis, to meet the increase in food needs, world agricultural production should increase by at least 70% compared to the current ones. The other major issue is climate change and its impact on temperature and rainfall, the main variables affecting agricultural production. In this challenging scenario, the effort to make agriculture sustainable passes through innovation, which can substantially reduce consumption and waste of natural resources.
According to data from the Smart AgriFood Observatory, carried out jointly by the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Brescia, the global value of agriculture 4.0 in 2018 reached 7 billion dollars (twice as much as the previous year), of which 30% generated in Europe. Growth is even faster in Italy, where the market has reached a value of between 370 and 430 million euros (+270% in just one year), equal to about 5% of the global market and 18% of the European market, generated by more than 110 suppliers, including established players and startups, offering innovative digital systems and technology consulting services.
Massimiliano Magrini, co-founder and managing partner of United Ventures, said: “The decision to invest in xFarm is in line with our strategy of investing in the digital transformation of traditionally analogue sectors and, according to the McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitization Index, agriculture remains the least digitized of all major industrial sectors to date. xFarm’s founder, Matteo Vanotti, came to us with this vision: to create an application that can help and simplify the work of farmers. A world he knows well, because before being an engineer and an entrepreneur he is a farmer himself, as he has always been involved in the family farm. We believe that Matteo and his team are real game changers, and that they have the right skills and ambition to scale the business internationally and become the reference platform for farmers who want to manage their companies digitally”.
Paolo Orsatti, managing partner of TiVenture, emphasizes: “TiVenture is proud to participate in the investment in xFarm, an opportunity that presents all the prerequisites for creating a successful digital company: a market with enormous potential for development, a team of young entrepreneurs focused on achieving corporate goals and a financial partner of the caliber of United Ventures, able to follow the company in all its growth phases”.
Matteo Vanotti, engineer and farmer, founder of xFarm, says: “I am very proud to have expanded the xFarm team with United Ventures and TiVenture. The xFarm project was born to help farmers be more efficient through the use of technology and with this investment we aim to enrich our digital platform with new features and expand the number of farmers beyond those who have already chosen to use our service. Digital transformation in agriculture is a topic of great interest and growth, both in small and large companies. This topic also affects the industries of the agro-food chain, which we help with analytical and traceability tools. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our external partners, my business partners and all xFarm employees for the incredible work they have done so far”.
United Ventures SGR SpA is an independent Italian Venture Capital manager specialising in investments in innovative companies in the software and digital technology sectors. Founded in 2013 by Massimiliano Magrini and Paolo Gesess, United Ventures manages over €170 million raised from Italian and international institutional investors, and has so far invested in over 20 early stage technology companies. The current portfolio includes, among others: xFarm, MishiPay, Equalum, Exein, Credimi, brumbrum, Moneyfarm, Cloud4Wi, MusiXmatch, MainStreaming and FACEIT.
UV2’s investment in xFarm is also supported by the European Investment Fund through InnovFin Equity, with financial support from the European Union in the context of the Horizon 2020 financial instruments and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (“EFSI”) established as part of the investment plan for Europe. The aim of EFSI is to support the financing and implementation of productive investments in the European Union and to ensure greater access to finance.
xFarm SA is a company specializing in the development of innovative technologies for the agricultural and food supply chain. Active for several years, it is present on the European and South American markets with projects on different crops. The specialized development of services for agriculture is based on a SaaS platform with both software and IoT hardware components, which characterize its modularity and flexibility.