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AEC invests CAD $5 million into Calgary-based The51 Food and AgTech Fund to support early-stage agriculture-focused startups in building a profitable, sustainable global food supply.

EDMONTON, April 28, 2023 – Alberta Enterprise announced today that it has invested CAD $5 million into The51 Food and AgTech Fund to provide seed and early-stage capital to Alberta businesses solving the planet’s most urgent food-related climate, environmental, and farming challenges. The51 is a Calgary-headquartered, women-led venture fund and financial platform led by partners with experience as operators, investors and mentors in multiple sectors including food and agtech.

Prior to their Food and AgTech Fund, The51 raised more than CAD $21 million in just over three years, with 90 per cent raised from investors who identify as women. The51 Fund I invested in Alberta startups including female-founded Virtual Gurus, Syantra, Mercator AI, Areto Labs and True Angle. The Food and AgTech Fund is The51’s first institutional fund and invests in seed and early-stage agriculture biotechnology, farm innovation, automation and food innovation businesses, seeking to advance food production to realize a profitable, sustainable, global food supply.

“The51’s ability to discover and support the growth of exceptional food and agtech ventures provides an advantage to Alberta’s startups and our diverse founders,” said Kristina Williams, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corporation. “We are excited to support The51’s first institutional fund, and to back a promising female-led venture capital team based here in Alberta.” The51 Food and AgTech Fund is led by Judy Fairburn, Shelley Kuipers and agtech veteran, Alison Sunstrum, as general partners. All partners are based in Calgary and deeply involved in the technology community across Canada.

“Over the next 30 years, to feed our rising global population, we will need to double food production. There is no question that to do more, with less, and to do so equitably and sustainably, will require creative disruption,” explained Alison Sunstrum, Managing General Partner, The51 Food and AgTech Fund. “As the fifth largest producer of agricultural commodities in the world, Canada has a vital role to play. We’re thrilled to have the support of Alberta Enterprise among the forward-thinking investors ramping up investment so we can better feed the world.”

“As I often say, technology is not just an industry, it is the future of every industry – and that includes agriculture. Alberta has one of the most productive agricultural economies in the world. It is core to our history, culture, and landscape,” added Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation.  “Improving access to capital for agtech businesses is essential to sustainably and responsibly advancing food production, attracting and developing talent, diversifying our economy, building local businesses and creating jobs in a sector true to Alberta.”

About Alberta Enterprise Corporation: alberta-enterprise.ca

Alberta Enterprise Corporation promotes the development of Alberta’s venture capital industry by investing in venture capital funds that finance technology companies. We focus on funds that have a strong commitment to Alberta – including a full-time presence in the province. In addition to financial capital, we support Alberta’s venture capital ecosystem by connecting investors, entrepreneurs, and experienced technology executives who share our passion for building a bright, innovative Alberta. We have committed CAD $337 million for investment to thirty-two venture capital funds including Accelerate Funds I, II and III, covering a diverse range of forward-looking industries including information technology, energy and industrial technology, life sciences and agriculture.

About The51 Food and AgTech General Partnership: the51.com/food-agtech-fund

The51 Food and AgTech General Partnership is a trailblazing Canadian venture capital firm, led by women and committed to revolutionizing the agricultural landscape through groundbreaking technology. Our expert team of former founders, operators and engineers provides unparalleled guidance and support, while our expansive The51 community connects our visionary founders with invaluable domain knowledge, talent and resources. Together, we cultivate a sustainable and thriving future for our planet. 

Editorial Contact: +1 587-402-6601, info@alberta-enterprise.ca