A new venture capital fund meant to tackle food insecurity and climate change has launched with a founding investment of $20 million. Nàdarra Ventures, based in Halifax, hopes to raise $50 million for the fund with a final close in June 2024.
The initial investment in the fund, which had its first close in the summer, came from Farm Credit Canada (FCC), Natural Products Canada (NPC), and family offices across the country.
“The origin and the thesis is really looking for naturally occurring molecules that are healthy, sustainable alternatives.”
Malcolm Fraser, managing partner of the fund, described it to BetaKit as a new Canadian venture fund on the forefront of investing in sustainable biotechnology for food, agriculture and materials.
“The origin and the thesis is really looking for naturally occurring molecules that are healthy, sustainable alternatives to chemicals and other petrochemicals in our current supply chains for agriculture, food and materials,” Fraser said.
Fraser noted the thesis for the fund developed out of the work of NPC. “It became obvious there was a gap in the marketplace for this stage and size of funding, and so they instigated the need for a fund of this nature,” Fraser said. “I came in about 10 months ago to ramp up the efforts to get this fund off the ground.”
The relationship with NPC provides Nàdarra access to a pre-vetted pipeline of companies through their national team of regional directors, according to Nàdarra.
The fund will run for 10 years with a five-year commitment, and reserve capital for follow-on investments. The deal sizes are earmarked for early Series A with cheque sizes of $1-3 million.
Nàdarra hasn’t signed any startups yet, but Fraser said it has been evaluating a number of opportunities.”We’re in deep diligence with three companies, and hope to have an investment announcement soon,” he said.
“NPC is fortunate to work with some of the world’s leading companies tackling the world’s biggest challenges,” says Shelley King, CEO of NPC. “These companies were the inspiration for our initial investments, and ultimately led to the foundation of Nàdarra.”
Mary Dimou, general partner, joins Fraser in running the fund. For now, the two of them will operate the fund but may add more staff as they develop the portfolio.
Fraser has received national innovation awards for the commercialization of new technologies and has been named one of Atlantic Business’s Hall of Fame Top 50 CEOs. Most recently, he was the CEO of Innovacorp, Nova Scotia’s crown corporation managing an early-stage venture capital fund.
Throughout her career, Dimou has managed corporate, institutional, and public venture capital funds globally from $500 million to over $1 billion in assets under management, including her most recent tenures with associated corporate venture funds of Scotts Miracle-Gro, Canopy Growth Corporation, and the Ontario Centre of Innovation.
Fraser added: “We really envision Nàdarra Ventures as playing a long-term role in the health and vitality of the Canadian agriculture and food industry by supporting entrepreneurs who are bringing innovative technologies and tackling those pressing challenges facing our world today.”
Image of Malcom Fraser and Mary Dimou, managing partner and general partner of Nàdarra Ventures, courtesy of Nàdarra Ventures.