09 November 2020

LIC invests in first of two start-ups

LIC has increased its level of investment in its AgCelerator™ Fund and announced its first two investments designed to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers.

The cooperative has confirmed investments in New Zealand-based 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 and the data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The other business LIC is investing in is 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 from 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.

Agcelerator toasting image

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 CEO, 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, CEO of Mastaplex, says he is excited to have the support of LIC as mastitis costs the New Zealand dairy industry $180M 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, CEO 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.”

Those interested can find an application form on LIC’s website on the LIC AgCelerator Fund webpage.