Billionaires Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos Back Agritech Start-up, Should You?


Some of America’s top agricultural groups have come together with a $1 billion-dollar fund backed by billionaires Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos to invest in one of the countries most promising food ingredient agritech start-up.

The Boston-based Motif Ingredients is a company that uses fermentation alongside biotechnology to create proteins that can be imbued in meat substitutes and plant-based beverages to improve the taste and nutritional quality of these foods.

The company so far raised $90 million in funding, with many backers include some of best-known green tech investors, such as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which includes billionaires Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and Jeff Bezos along their list. Other major investors include Fonterra Ventures, Viking Global Investors, Louis Dreyfus Corp, and other big funds in the green investment space.

Jonathan McIntyre, Motif’s chief executive, said consumers are demanding more food options and that as an industry it’s poised to explode over the coming years. He did add that “there was a reigning myth that healthy and plant-based foods must come at a higher price or cannot taste or function like the animal-based foods they aim to replicate.”

Kristen Eshak Weldon, head of food innovation and strategy at LDC added that “Innovative or disruptive solutions are key to respond to changing consumer demand and to address the challenge of feeding a growing world population sustainably.” Overall, it’s been reported that over $600 million has been invested in the alternative meat industry

The agritech industry has seen many interesting developments in February. Around a week ago, a French agritech start-up that turns insects into fish and animal feed raised over $125 million, making it the single largest agritech investment round outside of the US.

While not an appealing consumer product for people, it could revolutionize how conventional animal agriculture is handled, alongside significantly reducing these costs. “Insects are tremendous converters of energy. They’re a natural feed and has a fabulous balance of protein and beneficial amino acids,” said Alastair Cooper of ADM Capital.

At the same time, another trend the industry has been experimenting with is indoor, vertical farming. A San-Francisco-based start-up called Plenty raised $200 million back in 2017, backed by SoftBank Vision Fund which included Jeff Bezos again alongside former Google head Eric Schmidt. Another company in the bay area that focuses on developing plant-based alternatives for dairy and meat products, Impossible Foods, has raised almost $400 million since it was founded back in 2011.

Overall, vertical farming tools such as aquaponics and hydroponics were a $2.5 billion market in 2017, with some analysts expecting it to reach $13 billion by 2024 as reported by The Financial Times. While most of these start-ups remain too small to enter financial markets, it’s very much likely that in the coming years some of these businesses could have their own IPO’s as the new industry matures and is something investors and trader alike should keep their eyes open for.

Motif Ingredients Company Profile

Motif is a food ingredients company offering sustainable alternative proteins and wide-ranging ingredient solutions for innovative food producers. Built on Ginkgo Bioworks’ platform for genetic engineering, Motif uses biotechnology to re-create proteins from dairy, egg, and meat that provide uncompromised taste and nutrition. PRNewswire