GROWMARK, CHS Launch New $50M Agtech Fund Cooperative Ventures
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media
Top agricultural cooperative GROWMARK and leading farmer-owned global agribusiness CHS announced the launch of Cooperative Ventures, a $50 million capital fund designed to back advancements in breakthrough technologies for the agricultural industry.
The partners will be equals in the venture, which will be established as its own independent legal entity with teams in both Bloomington, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
This fund will offer differentiated value to startups in the ag ecosystem by leveraging the expansive, connected networks and unparalleled access to the farmgate and proven success of the two partners.
Headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois, GROWMARK is an agricultural cooperative providing nearly 400,000 North American customers with agronomy, energy, facility engineering and construction, and logististics products and services, as well as grain marketing and risk management services. GROWMARK also owns and operates SEEDWAY, the largest full-line seed company in the U.S.
CHS is a leading farmer, rancher, and co-op-owned agribusiness that has a diversified business in energy, agronomy, grains, and foods. It offers energy, crop nutrition, seed, and crop protection products; grain marketing services, production and agricultural services; animal nutrition products; foods and food ingredients; and risk management services. It also operates petroleum refineries and pipelines, and manufactures, markets and distributes refined fuels, lubricants, propane, and renewable energy products.
The combined markets of these two companies covers thousands of farmers and millions of acres that formulate an industry-leading test field for products and services. With this asset in-hand, GROWMARK and CHS have identified three core investment areas:
Supply chain, and,
"This is a terrific opportunity to act cooperatively by working together on a venture meaningful to agriculture and our corresponding supply chains," said Jim Spradlin, CEO, GROWMARK. "Both GROWMARK and CHS have trusted relationships and expertise within our networks, which will provide tremendous value for technology startups and ultimately benefit our respective customers. This is a natural evolution of GROWMARK's AgValidity trial and testing program."
When working with startups, the partners said that special attention will be paid to each company’s strategic fit with both GROWMARK and CHS. Other factors that will be considered are the company’s drive to be a leader in their space, its ability to deliver value and quality, the experience of its management team, and ultimately, the ability to take a product or service to market.
Together, GROWMARK and CHS will provide tech startups unprecedented access to world-leading distribution capabilities within multiple value chains, giving access to opportunities to test and refine at various scales. Furthermore, having cooperative member owners and customers co-existing within the same ecosystem gives a new level of depth for innovative ideas looking to create shareholder value and for customer-focused solutions.
"This partnership will help accelerate technology solutions to existing and emerging challenges in agriculture and is yet another way CHS creates connections to empower agriculture," said Jay Debertin, president and CEO, CHS Inc.
"Our ongoing commitment to investment in growth and innovation for the benefit of CHS owners and the cooperative system further places CHS and GROWMARK at the forefront of cutting-edge technology solutions by leveraging our deep expertise and strong connections with farmer-owners."