Italian crop producer targeted by angels in December

2017 looks likely to end on a quiet note in terms of the volume and value of European angel investment. According to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, there have been 16 deals worth a combined EUR 46 million announced during the month so far. Although there are still 11 days to go until the end of December at the time of writing, it looks unlikely that either volume or value will come close to November’s result, when EUR 329 million was invested across 43 deals. However, it is worth noting that November’s value represented a record high. Despite December’s disappointing result to date, the EUR 46 million injected still represents an improvement on August 2016’s EUR 33 million.

Despite the fact that 2017 appears to be going out with a whimper, rather than a bang, there is still plenty to be positive about. In the fourth quarter of the year to date, there have been 105 deals worth a combined EUR 538 million. In terms of value this represents the largest quarter of the year so far and also equates to an improvement on Q4 2016’s EUR 334 million. In fact, all four of the year’s quarters recorded more value than the corresponding period of last year, with the exception of Q2, when deals worth EUR 255 million were announced, compared to EUR 521 million in Q2 2016.

The lack of a very large transaction has held value down somewhat in December. The month’s largest European angel investment to date is worth almost EUR 11 million and featured a UK company as alumni networking platform operator Graduway secured a Series B round of funding from Susquehanna Growth Equity. This was followed by a Norwegian deal as clip-on web cam developer Huddly received just over EUR 8 million from Mertoun Capital, Graham Williams and Trond Riiber Knudsen. Only one other deal broke the EUR 5 million barrier as German mobile music streaming application provider Idagio brought in EUR 8 million from b to v Partners and Tengelmann Ventures, as well as undisclosed angels. These three deals combined accounted for 58 per cent of total value for December.

The usual industries were targeted by angel investors in European companies in December as numerous software companies featured in the month’s deals. One exception involved an Italian company as Sfera Societa Agricola, which operates the largest hydroponic greenhouse in southern Europe, received EUR 500,000 from Club degli Investitori. Sfera Societa Agricola aims to build large greenhouses which can be used to produce and market vegetables grown using hydroponic methods. The company was established in 2016 and its methods use significantly less water than alternative processes. It has received funding rounds in the past, having secured EUR 150,000 in June 2016 and a further EUR 7 million in a Series A round in July of this year, from investors including Oltre Ventures.

Unsurprisingly, companies engaged in crop production are targeted much less frequently by angel investors than their counterparts in the software sector. However, that is not to say this is the only such instance in recent years; between January 2006 and the present day, seven such deals have been announced worldwide. The most valuable of these closed this year and involved a European company as France-headquartered urban strawberry farming firm Agricool, which enables users to grow fruits and vegetables inside shipping containers, secured just under EUR 8 million from Daphni, Henri Seydoux, Thibaud Elziere and Jacques-Antoine Granjon. This was followed by a November 2017 EUR 4 million seed injection in UAE-headquartered Pure Harvest Smart Farms from multiple investors, including David Scott, Magnus Olsson and Arnab Chatterjee.

To conclude, despite a quiet end, 2017 has proven to be a fairly positive year in terms of the volume and value of European angel investment. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops at the beginning of 2018 and throughout the year

© Zephyr