Innova Memphis invests in Iowa companies as it expands its focus to agtech

Since announcing a $31 million Ag Innovation Fund in 2017, Innova Memphis has invested in four Iowa companies. (Photo courtesy of pexels).

Innova Memphis, an early-stage investment firm based in Memphis, Tenessee, has recently widened its scope and has begun investing in agtech companies with its most recent fund.

Innova announced last year that it had closed on Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV, a new fund that focuses solely on agtech companies. The $31 million fund will focus on early-stage investments anchored in rural America and will work with various national farm organizations and other partners to identify, enable and accelerate companies with high growth potential in the rapidly expanding agtech sector.

Since announcing the Ag Innovation Fund, the firm has invested in four Iowa companies: Agrisync, Rantizo, SwineTech and Tractor Zoom.

“When I brought our ag partner on board, he traveled to a lot of major universities and cities to see where we see a deep concentration of agricultural technology companies,” said Ken Woody, Founder and President of Innova Memphis.” And with a doubt, Iowa rose to the forefront pretty quickly. So we’ve spent a lot of time out there and what we’ve found is that most of the companies out of Iowa are had and shoulders above other companies across the country.”

Innova Memphis invests anywhere from $100,000 to $3 million in a company and its funds run between 8 and 10 years, Woody told Clay & Milk.

“Typically, we’ll invest around half a million,” Woody said. “We don’t usually invest by ourselves. We like to find other angel investors or firms to invest along with us.”

Woody says that he expects to continue to work with and invest in Iowa companies going forward.

“We have just found it a real joy to deal with companies out of Iowa,” Woody said. “It helps a lot when you have people that grew up on a farm. When you can take a technology and drive 30 minutes from your office and have it in the hands of farmers who use it, it’s a whole lot more valuable than trying to work with someone in a large city. So for us, that whole Iowa connection has been a real blessing that we hope to keep going.”