Yield Lab Europe, an AgTech accelerator programme, has opened for applications from start-up companies for its 2018 programme. 

Yield Lab will support up to eight companies with an investment of €100,000 and a mentoring and training programme to help them turn their ideas into successful internationally scalable businesses.

This is the second year of the European programme for the Yield Lab, which mirrors sister programmes in the US and Latin America in offering early stage venture capital to companies in the AgTech sector, with a particular focus on businesses addressing issues of environmental sustainability and food security.

Last year Yield Lab Europe had applications from 165 companies across world, from which four were selected to join the six-month programme, which gives the businesses exposure to agriculture industry experts in addition to the training and €100,000 investment.

This year’s companies will also benefit from trips to three capital conferences for early stage AgTech companies, attended by some of the world’s largest venture capital funds.

Paul Finnerty, former CEO of ABP Food Group is chairman of Yield Lab Europe, said the world does not produce enough food sustainably. "After 50 years of unprecedented bio-diversity loss, soil quality degradation, water pollution, deforestation and rising greenhouse gas emissions, the agri-food industry is under ever increasing pressure as a major contributor to global warming."

AgTech start-ups are at the sharp edge of vital innovation that addresses the need to produce more food using less resources.  It commenced operations in 2017 and have invested in three start-ups in Ireland and one in the UK.   It wants to invest in six to eight more businesses in 2018, and hoping to extend its reach into mainland Europe.

Alvan Hunt, Chief Executive of Hexafly one of the four companies selected last year, said the benefit of being backed by Yield Lab Europe is more than just a financial investment. "You are accessing a training and support network that is invaluable in helping to build a business," he said. 

Yield Lab Europe set up its headquarters in Galway, Ireland and launched its first programme cycle in 2017. It is replicating the model of Yield Lab USA, which was founded in 2014 by a group of experienced US agribusiness executives and investors. Based in St Louis, Missouri, the agricultural heartland of the USA, Yield Lab has invested $2 million in 17 companies to date, who have gone on to raise over $42 million in follow on investment.