Why we backed 3 new seed-stage agrifood tech companies in one month

Astanor Ventures
3 min readMar 21, 2022

by Madeleine Futterman for Astanor Ventures

Astanor was founded on one key principle: entrepreneurs hold the key to a future of food that is sustainable, equitable, nourishing and delicious. The large incumbents who have driven the development of the agrifood sector for decades have privileged calories over nutrition, and forsaken the health of the planet and its people. As the planet reaches a tipping point, we need fresh ideas, new solutions and we need them to be 100% focused on impact from day one.

The key to achieving this mission is to work with entrepreneurs from the very beginning of their journey. We seek out the most innovative ideas and work closely with entrepreneurs to ensure that impact is built into their business at every step of the way, enabling them to scale impact and growth without compromise.

“Building truly regenerative solutions requires companies to prioritize impact from day one,” says Christina Ulardic, Partner at Astanor Ventures. “Investing at seed stage allows us to support the next generation of entrepreneurs to turn their game changing ideas into mission-driven companies that can revolutionize the agrifood system.”

More about our latest seed stage investments below. And more to come!

MeliBio connects plant science and precision fermentation to produce bee-free honey and protect pollinator diversity. Photo courtesy of MeliBio.

MELIBIO

The future of honey. Better for humans. Better for bees.

About: · SF-Bay Area based MeliBio makes real honey without honeybees using a proprietary technology based on precision fermentation and plant science. Honey is a $10B market and one of the most unsustainable agricultural sectors with broken supply chain, quality issues and devastating impacts on 20,000 bee species and global biodiversity. MeliBio was founded by Darko Mandich, an immigrant from Serbia who is a former bee-honey industry executive, and Aaron Schaller, American scientist and amateur chef with PhD degree from UC Berkeley. TIME Magazine selected MeliBio for the prestigious Best Inventions 2021 award.

Founders: Darko Mandich (CEO), Aaron Schaller (CSO)

Location: USA

Mi Terro’s plastic alternative is home compostable and made from plant-based agricultural waste. Photo courtesy of Mi Terro.

MI TERRO

Using big data to engineer agricultural waste into naturally compostable biomaterials to replace single-use plastic.

About: Mi Terro is a synthetic biology and advanced material company that powers big data to create home compostable, plastic-alternative biomaterials made from plant-based agricultural waste– this is a first-of-its-kind approach. We are excited to see such a significant leap forward in our ability to manipulate nature’s most diverse and abundant building blocks.

Founders: Robert Luo (CEO), Shengfu Chen (CSO)

Location: USA

Source.ag is bringing advanced AI to indoor farms to increase access to fresh produce across the world. Photo courtesy of Source.ag

SOURCE.AG

Democratising access to sufficient fruit and vegetables with A.I. powered indoor farms.

About: Source.ag is accelerating access to fresh fruit and vegetables with A.I. powered greenhouses. Their team of experienced engineers and plant scientists has partnered with the world’s leading growers to build the sector’s most advanced artificial intelligence. Their proprietary algorithms simulate plant behavior to define and execute optimal cultivation strategies, taking into account millions of data points on climate, biology, and resources. By enabling growers to operate more land more efficiently through our pioneering tech, Source.ag is making greenhouse agriculture more accessible, profitable and globally scalable. Source.ag is on a mission to provide healthy food to more people, using fewer resources.

Founders: Rien Kamman (CEO), Ernst van Bruggen (COO)

Location: Netherlands

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Astanor Ventures

Astanor invests where tech meets nature to build a sustainable, nutritious and delicious future of food for all.