Farm innovators get funding boost from Libro


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Innovators in the agriculture sector have a new venture capital fund just for them – and an investment by Libro Credit Union opens the door for Southwestern Ontario businesses to apply.

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Libro will invest $2 million over the next five years in the Emmertech fund, which targets startups using new technologies to improve farming.

“We see farmers and operators with lots of innovative ideas, but not all of them qualify for traditional lending,” said Tania Goodine, Libro’s vice president of strategy and innovation.

“If someone has an idea, especially if it’s technology-based, venture capital can be a route … to acquire the capital that they need to bring their idea to market.”

Libro is one of 30 funding partners who collectively have raised $45 million so far, with a goal of $60 million by year’s end.

Investors include the Saskatchewan government.

“The Canadian venture capital playbook doesn’t work within the ag-tech industry as it does other industries,” Sean O’Connor, Emmertech managing director, said in a statement.

“(We) are building our approach that can create highly reliable technology products ready for commercialization in one of the most important industries in the world.”

Having Libro as one of the funding partners will allow businesses in Southwestern Ontario to apply for funding, Goodine said.

Besides the capital investment, Libro will be an adviser assessing companies’ projects and funding requests, she added.

“Across the country, there are a handful of large agricultural belts and Southwestern Ontario is an important one in Canada,” Goodine said. “Our partners … understand that, and they are looking to find farmers who have these good ideas.”

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