Wednesday, 25 November 2020 07:55

LIC invests in start-ups

Written by  Staff Reporters
LIC AgCelerator Fund manager Eleshea D'Souza toasts to a new investment partnership with CEO David McDonald from TrackBack with a cold glass of milk. LIC AgCelerator Fund manager Eleshea D'Souza toasts to a new investment partnership with CEO David McDonald from TrackBack with a cold glass of milk.

Farmer cooperative LIC is investing in two agritech businesses working to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers.

The investment, through LIC’s AgCelerator Fund, goes to local companies, TrackBack and Mastaplex.

Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to “provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance”.

Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers, says LIC. The data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

LIC is also investing in Dunedin-based Mastaplex, which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest. The device provides faster and more precise mastitis diagnosis on farm. A cloud-based IT solution, Mastaplex is able to advise a farmer which cow has which bug within 24 hours, helping decrease antibiotic use.

LIC’s AgCelerator Fund, launched in August, is a fund for individuals and entities growing and scaling innovations value to the dairy industry: generating higher yields, improving animal health, diagnostic tools and improved traceability to sustainability, advancements in breeding techniques and leveraging big data for improvements to farm management.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee says he is excited about the first investments being made through the fund.

“We have been impressed with both businesses through our due diligence process and pleased that both have a strong focus for our industry.

“Mastitis is a real problem for dairy farmers and having greater visibility of the supply chain is critical as more consumers seek to understand the paddock to plate journey and each step in between.”

Dr Olaf Bork, chief executive of Mastaplex, says he is excited to have the support of LIC as mastitis costs the New Zealand dairy industry $180 million annually and is one of the biggest issues on farm today.

“Our product Mastatest guides antibiotic treatment decisions for mastitis and supports disease management, improves milk quality and combats against antimicrobial resistance.

“We are delighted that our impact gets recognised by key dairy players in New Zealand.”

David McDonald, chief executive of TrackBack, says the support of LIC means it will enable the business to expand its world class platform and develop more tools to make leading edge innovations more accessible to primary industries and enhance data interoperability across the value chain.

The LIC AgCelerator Fund remains opens to other applications, says manager Eleshea D’Souza.

 “We’re continuing to receive a lot of strong applications for funding which is why we have increased the pool available.

“LIC recognises that partnering is important for new product development in the industry and it’s exciting to be advocating for our shareholders through investment into products and services we believe will deliver further value on farm.”

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