Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund invests in chickpea protein Foodtech Company InnovoPro

InnovoPro, the plant-based ingredients innovator specialising in innovative chickpea proteins, has secured $18m from investors including Rabobank as part of a second funding round. The Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund, part of Rabobank’s investment arm Rabo Corporate Investments, joined InnovoPro's B round funding as the global food ecosystem continues to evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deal, which was led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Israels leading VC fund and also included in its second closing ICOS Capital, collaborative venture capital firm and iAngels, Israel's influential Angels investment platform, comes as consumers demand healthier and more sustainable clean-label plant-based solutions.

Based in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv, InnovoPro was founded in 2015. It developed a proprietary extraction process to concentrate protein from chickpea, a functional protein which can serve as a clean label enabler for plant-based products including dairy-free yoghurts, vegan ice cream, veggie burgers and energy bars.
 
InnovoPro is the first company in the world to develop and launch a revolutionary 70% protein concentrate from chickpeas, with exceptional properties of a neutral taste, high functionality and high nutritional values. InnovoPro’s innovative plant-based protein boasts multiple benefits, which explain its early success: it is “free from all”, has not been genetically modified (non-GMO), free of phytoestrogens, has no aftertaste and is not listed as an allergen. These properties render it highly suitable for developing a broad range of food products that meet a range of demands from diverse target audiences across the globe.
 
Food-tech investments reached $4.8 billion during the first half of 2020, compared to $7 billion in all of 2019, and the scope of investments is expected to continue to rise rapidly. This latest investment is a natural addition to Rabo Corporate Investment’s global capital investment allocation of Euro 2.1b. The investment will further strengthen its presence in the plant-based protein market which is currently estimated globally at $40 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% to $75 billion by 2027.
 
Lower water usage
Richard O’Gorman, Managing Director of Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund said, “We first engaged with InnovoPro through the bank’s global startup discovery platform, FoodBytes! by Rabobank, and have followed their progress and success closely since. In line with the more informed and sophisticated consumer, novel plant based protein solutions are coming under greater scrutiny in the context of their nutrition and sustainability footprint. Chickpea with its high protein, fiber, iron and other characteristics leads to a more nutritious alternative and allows for cleaner labeling with no need for the emulsifiers, enhancers or masking agents necessary with competing analogues. Chickpea is a sustainable source, driven by crop characteristics such as comparatively lower water usage and carbon footprint with rotational qualities.
For these reasons we believe chickpea will be a leader in the next wave of non-animal protein sources. We are therefore very proud to back InnovoPro, the strong market leader in the space, and look forward to scaling the company with an expert management team and strong group of investors”.
 
New reality
“The COVID-19 crisis has created a new reality, positioning food security as an essential need”, said JVP Founder and Chairman, Dr. Erel Margalit, who led the funding round. “The significant decrease in world trade and in available employees on farms, creates the need to be self-sustainable at all times. Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has raised worldwide awareness to healthier foods and better food processing standards. This has increased the need for creative sustainable solutions and innovation in the changing world of what we eat. InnovoPro has become a leader in the Israeli food-tech industry and is on the path to becoming a world food-tech leader”.
 
“We are honored to have Rabobank as a shareholder in InnovoPro” said Taly Nechushtan, CEO of InnovoPro. “InnovoPro will use the additional funding to scale up operational capabilities through increasing production capacity and for further business development activities, including forming joint ventures with strategic partners. As part of our sustainable growth strategy, we will also use the added funding to explore production collaboration options for our protein and future products in the EU, to expand our EU supply chain capabilities.
 
The Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund, being part of the leading bank in the food and agriculture financing arena, will leverage its significant global business network to facilitate more opportunities to form such strategic partnership.” 

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Margo van Wijgerden

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