Nestlé and French state-sponsored investor Bpifrance Financement are among those backing Five Season Ventures, a food-tech fund that is moving from London to Paris.
Investors are becoming increasingly interested in the food-tech industry.
Earlier this month, US bone-broth protein maker Ancient Nutrition raised $103 million from investors including Silicon Valley venture firm Iconiq Capital, which invests on behalf of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. In July SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund led a $200 million investment in vertical farming startup Plenty.
Five Season Ventures, which has raised more than €60 million, was founded by Ivan Farneti, a former partner at Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, and Niccolo Manzoni, who previously worked at Coller Capital.
"Large institutions want to see what is happening outside their labs," said Farneti. "The need for large food corporates is that they need to acquire innovation."
Five Season Ventures will invest in Series A funding rounds, and although currently based in London, will move to Paris in the summer. "France is currently a more friendly ecosystem for venture capital," said Manzoni, but added the move was not due to the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Much has been made about the resurgence of France as a tech hub. Alphabet’s Google and Facebook pledged in January to hire staff and invest in AI labs in Paris, while French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his goal of establishing France as a centre for venture capital investment.
Over the first nine months of 2017, the UK brought in $7.2 billion of tech investment, compared to just $2.8 billion for France, according to data from European venture capital firm Atomico. However, France brought in a higher number of deals over the same time period - 753 compared to the UK’s 726.
Nestlé has also been expanding its health-science business. Last year it made the surprise $2.3 billion acquisition of Canadian supplements maker Atrium Innovations. It has also invested in meal-delivery startup Freshly and funds Inventages, a venture capital fund focused on the junction of food and health.
Five Season Ventures’ fund will be looking to invest in companies focused on themes such as the reduction of salt, saturated fats and sugar in food, to personalized nutrition and gut microbiota.
Other investors in the fund include InnovFin Equity, Fondo Italiano d’Investimento, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 investment programme.