Amsterdam-based Rockstart is a global accelerator-VC that supports purpose-driven founders across three domains, including Energy, AgriFood and Emerging Tech. Today, the firm announced the closing of its AgriFood fund at €22m with the participation of Vaekstfonden’s Green Future Fund, alongside new informal investors such as Joke Pronk and longtime Rockstart investors, Marcel Beemsterboer, Jasper de Rooij, Hans Maltha and, new investor global dairy cooperative Arla Foods.
Mikkel Hesselgren, Senior Vice President, Equity, Vaekstfonden, says, “Vækstfonden supported the establishment of Rockstart AgriFood with our investment back in the summer of 2019, which helped them open an office in Copenhagen. For the past two years, Rockstart has proven that they play a key role in developing sustainable food companies who have the potential of transforming the food and agriculture industry.”
The company says the closing the fund at over €22M exceeds its initial target and will help the company to further invest in top Agritech and Foodtech startups as well as co-invest in its AgriFood portfolio companies up to series B round.
A global accelerator-VC
Launched in 2011 in Amsterdam, Rockstart claims to be one of Europe’s first startup accelerators. It is a domain-focused accelerator-VC with follow-on growth funding across four domains, energy, health, AgriFood, and emerging technologies. The firm provides startups with access to the capital, market, community, and expertise by connecting them to partners, investors, mentors and the wider Rockstart network.
The firm also creates programs customised to help collaborate between startups and corporates, commercial partnerships, and investment. Rockstart has experience in designing and executing programs for Maersk, Shell, the Dutch Ministry of Health, and many others.
Since its inception, the accelerator has invested in more than 200 startups and helped raise more than €89M, and hire more than 700 people. Rockstart.
Future-proof and sustainable food supply system
Rockstart AgriFood has invested in 20 startups since its launch in mid-2019. The fund’s 2020 portfolio companies currently have a follow-on funding rate of over 70 per cent, and the current portfolio of 20 startups, since 2019, has collectively raised more than €10M to date.
Since its inception in 2011, Rockstart has invested in more than 250 startups, and its alumni value to date is €500M.
Mark Durno, Managing Partner AgriFood at Rockstart, says, “Our global food industry is poised for an overdue transition to more sustainable and regenerative practices. The fact that industry leaders, such as Arla, Vaekstfonden and many others, put their faith in Rockstart by investing further in our AgriFood fund makes us even more optimistic that we can deliver on our mission – empower purpose-driven founders to drive positive change at a global scale.”
Arla Foods is one of the newcomers to Rockstart’s group of investors. The company has decided to contribute to Rockstart AgriFood to further extend its innovation ecosystem. Lars Dalsgaard, Senior Vice President, Product and Innovation, explains, “At Arla Foods, we have an ambitious climate target of reducing our CO2 emissions by 30 per cent in 2030 and becoming carbon net-zero by 2050. while continuing to provide consumers all over the world with nutritious quality products.”
Dalsgaard adds, “In order to deliver a strong contribution to a future-proof and sustainable food supply system, we rely on collaboration with startups and other external partners to bring new solutions to our innovation ecosystem. Through startups, we get access to technologies and knowledge outside our own field of expertise.”
Investing for a sustainable future
Rockstart and its funds actively support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Besides, the company is also aligned with the European Union long-term strategic vision for 2050 with its range of challenging pathways for the transition towards climate neutrality.
With such goals and visions, Rockstart’s AgriFood Fund focuses on seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals including, Zero Hunger; Good Health and Wellbeing; Clean Water and Sanitation; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Life Below Water; and, Life on Land.
The AgriFood fund is Rockstart’s first fund launched in 2019. Its second fund was launched in October 2020 and is dedicated to investing in energy startups. Moreover, the company is planning to make new investments in the coming months in promising startups, specifically in the following themes; Regenerative & Future-Proof Production; Responsible & Circular Processes and Distribution; and, Quantifiable Food Consumption.
Applications for Rockstart AgriFood 2021 are now closed. The team is currently reviewing several hundred applications for our summer 2021 investments.