GROWMARK and CHS form new capital fund aimed at ag tech startups

IARN — GROWMARK and CHS have announced the formation of Cooperative Ventures, a new capital fund that will focus on creating advancements in breakthrough technologies for the agriculture industry.

GROWMARK innovation lead Heather Thompson tells IARN the fund will provide differentiated value to startups in the agricultural ecosystem by leveraging the expansive, connected networks, unparalleled access to the farmgate and proven success of the two agricultural cooperatives.

“GROWMARK has been committed to innovation in the agriculture industry for quite some time now,” said Thompson. “We’ve embraced that commitment to innovation through testing of new products and connecting to other technologies and startup organizations for several years now. This corporate venture capital fund is really the next iteration of that and a natural progression of our commitment to innovation. We really see this as an opportunity for us to accelerate that commitment to innovation by providing opportunities to leverage the scale of both agricultural cooperatives.”

Both companies will be equal partners in the $50 million fund, which will be established as its own separate legal entity. Thompson says the new capital fund will be beneficial to farmers.

“Through this network, we’ll have the opportunity to not only see technologies – potentially invest in them if they are a great fit for both of our businesses – but also bring those technologies to our member companies and to their farmer-customers. By accelerating that innovation, we’ll be able to help technologies come to the floor quicker. That will benefit farmers, as well as it will potentially provide some economic impact and positive benefit back to the system as a whole.”

The combined markets of the two companies cover millions of acres and thousands of farmers that will create an industry-leading test field for products and services within North America. The fund has identified three core investment areas, or “Fields of Play,” to maximize the impact of each investment: crop production, supply chain, and sustainability.

Cooperative Ventures will be comprised of teams based out of Bloomington, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.

Photos by GROWMARK and CHS



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