Private capital investments in agrifood-tech startups in South America

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This research follows a mixed-methods approach to exploring private capital investment in agrifood-tech startups in South America. In the last 15 years, over $9.85 billion dollars have been allocated to finance 547 startups on more than 1106 business deals. The South American agrifood-tech ecosystem is heavily concentrated in Brazil and Argentina which account for 75% of the population of startups. Chile and Colombia have emerged as crucial players in recent years. The agrifood-tech sector shows the largest growth among all major industries; with an annualized growth rate of 52%, it accounts for almost 10% of total capital investments in the region. The top 10 largest deals account for almost 48 percent of all investments from the time series. The median investment in South America is roughly US$100,000. Pre-farm gate technologies captured over 42% of the deal flow but only 15% of the total capital invested. On-demand delivery startups represent 50.9% of all investments in the region but only 8.4% of the deal flow. 252 out of 547 firms raised two or more funding rounds from 2007 to 2022. Primary production is the industry segment in which startups reported repeated deal series (25%). Regression models with macroeconomic and macrofinancial indicators fail in explaining variation in private capital investments in South America. Private investment is positively and at least weakly significantly associated with the amount of land in agricultural production but not with the total output (AgGDP) from that land nor with the overall productivity (AgTFP) of the agricultural system. Overall, the main barriers to the adoption and uptake at scale of agrifood technologies in South America are limited access to financing, lack of sophisticated investors, poor public-private partnerships, high opportunity cost of on-farm technologies, weak domestic capital markets, and limited legal protection to investors.

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54 pages


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Agrifood-tech; Agtech; Investments; Private Capital; South America; Startups


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Union Local


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Barrett, Christopher

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Herrero Acosta, Mario

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Applied Economics and Management

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M.S., Applied Economics and Management

Degree Level

Master of Science

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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