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Forum Review vol.9 l Francisco Jardim, SP Ventures

In the news from the forum vol.1, we covered the whole picture of the forum and Opening Remarks by Brazil Venture Capital.

From vol.2 onwards, we will provide a series of 18 sessions.

In this chapter, we would review a session on "Agritech Market in Brazil" by SP Ventures Francisco Jardim!

SP Ventures, Mr. Francisco Jardim (left side) and Brazil Venture Capital, Nakayama CEO


Session summary

As in the Brazil Venture Capital’s blog we showed some reports like the development of large-scale agriculture and agritech in Brazil, investment in ARPAC from Japanese drone funds, entering into Brazilian market by Japanese agritech – Agri Info Design, agriculture is particularly noted as a sustainable field. In this session, SP Ventures’s CEO, Francisco Jardim, who has been concentrating on agritech in Brazil and contributing to the development of agricultural technology from a venture capital perspective, discussed the company’s history, agricultural trends in Brazil, and future prospects (Click here for an article about the SP Ventures presentation at the open innovation conference).


Corporate overview

SP Ventures was founded in 2007 as a pioneer in venture capital in Brazil and responsible for investing in the Criatec I Fund. Criatec I was the foundation of the Brazilian venture capital industry, led by BNDES and BNB. Between 2007 and 2013, more than 1,200 companies were analyzed and eight investments were made by SP Ventures. They invest primarily in early stage companies and work with people who want to change the status quo through innovation. In addition to financial support, they provide a variety of services, from management consulting, key account recruitment and access, networking and financing. SP Ventures manages the São Paulo Innovation Fund (FIP) and holds LPs such as Desenvolve SP, FINEP, FAPESP, Sebrae-SP, CAF and Jive Investments. The fund has a total value of US$105M and focuses on areas such as Agritech, FinTech and Healthtech.

Today, based in Brazil’s innovation hub, Agtech Valley, it is internationally recognized as one of the leading venture capitalists in the agritech space. SP Ventures is also working on projects that contribute to the Brazilian startup ecosystem, including the Brazilian Venture Debt Fund, led by BNDES, which provided the first credit product for Brazilian venture companies.

Eight deals were closed between 2008 and 2012 and 21 deals between 2013 and 2018. In particular, since 2013, SP Ventures launched its own fund, which was the 5th-earliest stage VC fund in Brazil (2013) and invested in the 13 Agritech portfolio, which was the largest scale in Latin America.

The team is broadly divided into investment and operations divisions, and has members who have experience in a wide range of fields such as venture capital, finance, agriculture and food. Mr. Jardim himself has a background in hedge funds and agricultural businesses, and has a strong insight into the startup market.

Francisco Jardim CEO and logo mark of SP Ventures


Brazil’s Agriculture

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of seven products, including soy, beef, chicken, sugar and ethanol, and corn is the world’s second largest in export. Also, compared to the macro economy, the statistics for 2012-17 show that the agricultural business has always exceeded GDP growth. Agritech has increased agricultural productivity and achieved stable growth that is not affected by the macro landscape. Brazil is also highly competitive in terms of land. Excluding the Amazon, there is room for 70M hectares of land reclamation, the largest area of ​​land suitable for agriculture in the world, and currently only 7.8% of the country is used for agriculture (17.4% in the United States). In addition, the amount of recyclable agricultural water is comparable to that of Asia as a whole. On the other hand, due to the vast land area, climate and soil vary from region to region, complicating agricultural management.

That’s where Agritech comes in. For example, the public institution Embraba (Brazil Agricultural Research Association) was founded in 1973 and has 42 bases and specialists in Brazil. Through these efforts, universities in each region will enhance their R & D capabilities in aspects such as soil, nutrition, genetics, and environmental management, and play a role in agritech development. In fact, the Federal University of Sao Paulo ESALQ is considered the world’s fifth largest educational institution for agricultural science and is promoting Agritech R & D in the Agtech Valley in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo. Thus, the challenges in agriculture seem to be great opportunities from a different perspective.

AgTech Garage, a co-working office for agritech, in the Agtech Valley


Overview of the Brazilian venture capital market | Turning point in 2017

He spoke about the turning point in 2017 as an example for the overall venture capital market. Investment increased from US$260M in 2016 to US$860M in 2017, deal numbers also increased from 63 to 117 in the same period, and active investors increased from 52 to 80 (2015 vs. 2017). On the other hand, investment in the agritech field had room for growth, at 23% of the total. Since 2018, unicorns and listed companies have been born one after another. Brazil is also seen as a potential hub for the Latin American market.


Brazil’s agritech market

There are more than 400 agritech-related startups in Brazil, covering from upstream to downstream of agriculture. Specifically, it has the strength to cover three stages: research and development of crops, growing environment, agricultural equipment, etc., which is the basis of agriculture → efficiency from planting to harvesting → optimal logistics and inventory management after harvesting.


SP Ventures’ investment strategy and portfolio

Leveraging the above-mentioned Brazilian agritech from upstream to downstream, Sp Ventures invests in agriculture / livestock and chemical / agriculture / food. For example, in the first quarter of 2018, we invested in 66 agritechs, including marketplaces, IoT and agricultural fintech. In the same year, three of the 177 deals were closed. Investees include startups such as Aegro, Agronow, and Horus, who have also appeared on the forums.

Examples of the portfolio


Case study | synergy among portfolio companies for smarter agriculture

As an example of smart agriculture, the synergies of Aegro, Horus and three other companies were introduced. It seems that smart agriculture is realized by combining the technologies of investees such as Horus’s drone and Aegro’s operation software. As Mr. Hamada of Agri Info Design told at the forum, instead of “ managing agriculture-related matters entirely by one company alone ”, openly combine the specialties of each startup and improve agricultural efficiency I reconfirmed the tide. This point can be said to be common to all industries, not just Agritech.


Background of Mr. Jardim

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sao Paulo Ventures (SPV), a leading Latin American agritech company. He has led 34 technology venture investments and has been involved in more than 20 executive committees. He is currently a director of agritech companies in Latin America, including IoT, satellite imaging, cloud computing, marketplace, livestock management, livestock breeding and blockchain. In addition, he joined the credit committee of the first venture debt fund in the Latin America region (BVD-Brasil Venture Debt1). Prior to SPV, he worked in the wholesale banking and hedge fund industries, and started a brokerage business focused on self-sufficient agricultural and sub-Saharan markets. He is also a member of the Endeavor Mentor Network and has also acted as an advisor to several public and private innovation think tanks.

Thank you for the valuable lecture!


Important Notices

The 3rd Brazil-Japan Startup Forum will be held in Tokyo on February 14 (Fri).

Guests from Japanese and Brazilian startups and venture capitals who were present at the Brazilian forum will be invited to talk about “Impressions of the Brazilian market, future business strategies and odds”. This is a must-see for anyone looking to enter or invest in Brazil!

Detail (in Japanese)

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