Adam Anders: "True and exciting challenges for food & agri"

Tension rises in the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge. Great ideas for feed tech innovation keep pouring in. With the Challenge well underway, it is time to present the jury members who will eventually pick the winner(s) of the Challenge. How do they feel about the need for innovation in feed tech? And: what are they looking for in the entries they will assess? Jury member Adam Anders, Managing Partner of agtech investor Anterra Capital, shares his thoughts on the challenge.

When the idea of a challenge for food tech was born, Anterra was keen to participate. I feel honoured to be on the jury and also feel a strong need to be part of this. I will explain why.

We at Anterra Capital call ourselves 'a specialist investor dedicated to financing the growth of innovative companies operating across the food & agricultural value chain'. As a food and agriculture investor, Anterra invests in companies that have a specific added value. The companies we are always on the lookout for are – each in their own way – transforming the safety, security and sustainability of global food.

Corporate versus start-up

As an investor, we believe that having a relationship with corporates in the food and agri value chain is as critical as having a relationship with the young entrepreneurs that we invest in. The Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge is a great example of those two things coming together.

The unique aspect of the Challenge is that it helps find the overlap between the interests of entrepreneurs and Nutreco. Bringing these two together results in a unique and exciting mix.

Young entrepreneurs have a vision and a determination. A different way of looking at problems and solutions that Nutreco cannot replicate. But in food and agriculture, nobody has more market knowledge of specialty animal feed ingredients and animal nutrition, nor better research facilities, than Nutreco.

Anterra has capital and experience in supporting the type of entrepreneurs that this Challenge is looking to support. I strongly believe that these three parties together can create a 'one-plus-one-plus-one equals more than three' situation. We all need each other.

Ripe for transformation

In other sectors, like IT and retail, we have seen new transformative ideas become successful businesses. Entrepreneurs have fundamentally changed those sectors. We have not seen much of this yet in food and agri. The sector is ripe for transformation. We need to bring the parties together that can ignite it. 

Anterra has invested before in companies that have this 'transformation potential'. One great example is Caribou. This company recently discovered a new form of gene editing, Cispr Cass 9. The innovation is precise, low-cost and very simple and quick to use. It is clearly going to have a fundamental impact on human health, particularly related to genetic diseases. We are interested in how an innovation like Crispr Cass 9 can change the plant and animal health sectors. Caribou is an example of how we look for innovators in other sectors that can help change food and agri.

Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge

We like to think that we know a potentially transformative idea or concept when we see one and we hope to come across many of these during the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge. After finding entrepreneurs or companies with breakthrough potential, our next step is to find out if such companies can reach their potential. Does the proposed innovation work at a reasonable cost? How can we get it implemented? That is the true – and exciting – challenge that comes next.