Manawatu Agtech Start-Up Koru Diagnostics Raises $900k Seed Investment

A Palmerston North-based start-up company, Koru Diagnostics, has had impressive success with its first funding round.

Koru, which is developing cost-effective laboratory and rapid farmside tests, was substantially oversubscribed when it closed its seed funding round recently with close to a million dollars.

CEO, Rhys McKinlay, is very happy with the outcome. “We raised over $900k, mostly from angel investors, which will give us a commercialisation runway through until late 2019. These funds will be directed towards product development and commercial scale-up, protecting our IP and securing new commercial partnerships,” he says.

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Major trends in agtech for 2018

The disruption over the last decade in the retail food value chain gained momentum in 2017 with the IPO of Blue Apron, and acquisitions such as Bai Brands ($1.7 billion), Sir Kensington Condiments and Whole Foods by Amazon ($13.7 billion). This wave of disruption is being paralleled in the agricultural value chain, driven by increasing land turnover and altered land use, renewed focus on sustainability and, as in retail, changing consumer preference.

A continued slump in commodity prices has seen “Big Ag” facing declining margins and prompted a wave of consolidation to get cost efficiency, as well as a search for new innovation over the last three years. As key products in seed and chemistry have come off patent, the change imperative for the Big 6 has only strengthened. Coincidentally, the agtech investment landscape has exploded over the last decade, from a niche, opportunistic clade of the venture capital investment class, to a legitimate asset class attracting focused and generalist funds with dedicated agtech investment allocations.

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