Investment management company Signature has partnered with StartLife to tap into European agricultural innovation, as it aims to optimize natural resources and improve food security in Africa and other regions where the company will expand in the coming years. For impact-driven tech startups, the partnership could provide a route to on-farm validation of novel technologies.

Both Signature and StartLife are based in the Netherlands and support startups from all over the world that aim to build a sustainable food system with novel technologies. Signature is particularly interested in startups with solutions for improved resource management and crop productivity for large-scale farms in Africa and beyond, including those producing fruits, nuts, cereals, grains and alternative proteins.

Pressing agricultural issues

Head of Investments at Signature, Tsito Raharison, said, “We want to develop the agri sector in general, and have pressing issues in food security and biodiversity that we need to solve. StartLife can introduce us to ground-breaking technologies that will help us achieve this mission.”

“We are investing in ground-breaking precision farming technologies and organic inputs that tackle pressing issues in food security and biodiversity.”

Key concerns include tackling pollution, water security and efficiency and soil degradation, as well as ways to make crops more resilient to extreme weather and less reliant on fertilizers, pesticides, and other farming inputs. The organization is looking for precision farming technologies and organic inputs that can help tackle these issues.

Bridging the gap between farms and technology

Photo: Tsito Raharison (Head of Investments, Signature) and Jan Meiling (Managing Director, StartLife)

Investor Relations Manager at StartLife, Lin Zhu, said, “StartLife is a founder-centric organization, so we want to ensure we add value to our startups. Startups often have a gap to reach the farmers and do the validation testing of their product on the farm. Signature is able to offer the insights and could also provide that access.”

The investment company already invests in large-scale farming projects in conjunction with dedicated outgrower schemes in Morocco, Malawi, Zambia, and Nigeria. It provides much more than funding, as it also sees its role as a steward of natural resources and aims to reduce poverty, promoting economic empowerment through worker and community development.

StartLife’s dedication to sustainability, its position at the heart of agrifoodtech, and its strong links with Wageningen University & Research were central to the Signature’s decision to enter the partnership.

United in sustainability goals

“Technology is the catalyst of changes we want to make on those farms,” said Raharison. “StartLife has the same focus and mission as us and gives us access to the best-in-class technologies in agtech and foodtech. In the end, it boiled down to pushing the agenda for a more sustainable agriculture sector.”

Zhu said, “We expect that Signature will become an active player in our ecosystem and help solve pressing issues with our startups, other partners, and Wageningen.”

Startups interested in partnering with Signature should contact StartLife to arrange an introduction.

About Signature Agri Investments

Signature Agri Investments is a leading impact investment boutique which provides nature-based investment solutions to combat food insecurity, create climate resilience, contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem restoration, and transform communities and economies through sustainable and innovative agriculture investments. Signature invests and operates across multiple countries mainly in Africa with a demand-driven value chain approach to build a carbon-negative portfolio of agricultural assets.