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Portfolio News and Updates: September 2023

E. Bader
September 28, 2023

September News and Updates

Monarch Named a Unicorn on Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startup List

In September, Forbes named Monarch Tractor to its 2023 Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. The “unicorn” recognition highlights Monarch’s solid performance on growth and scalability as well as its AgTech product, the MK-V electric, driver-optional, and connected tractor.

Forbes published a 29-minute documentary on Monarch that includes deep-dive interviews with Monarch leadership Praveen Penmetsa (Chief Executive Officer), Zachary Omohundro (Chief Technical Officer), Carlo Mondavi (Chief Farming Officer), and Mark Schwager (President).

Watch the film to learn about Monarch’s equity funding, current valuations, and how the company will generate revenue growth through software subscriptions that give farmers real-time alerts about sick plants and safety risks, and data to improve crop yields.  

View the Monarch Tractor Documentary.

More from the Monarch Team

Monarch’s Carlo Mondavi spent more time with Forbes this month, speaking at the Forbes Sustainability Leaders Summit, a live and virtual event held on Sept. 20, 2023. Watch a recording of the event, including Carlo Mondavi talking about The Future of Food and the sustainability issues that led him to start Monarch. The Future of Food clip starts at 03:40:00.

Hear Carlo Mondavi on The Future of Food.

Monarch CEO and Co-founder, Praveen Penmetsa presented at the Vox Media event CODE 2023,held September 26-27 in Dana Point, California. The event centered on interviews with leaders across tech companies and the impact of AI on their industries.

Read about the event.

Portfolio News

Antler Bio

Antler Bio was selected as a finalist for the Innovation Showcase at the Livestock Innovation Summit, held September 7-8 in London. The team presented its data-driven epigenomics technology as part of an Innovation Showcase, highlighting start-ups and early-stage companies who are tackling the biggest challenges in the livestock industry.


The Government of Canada recently invested$250,000 in ReelData Inc. The funds will go toward building a production facility including a camera system paired with ReelData’s AI-powered aquaculture monitoring software.

Trace Genomics

Trace Genomics partnered with Taurus Agricultural Marketing to bring its genomics-based soil testing solution to Canada. Taurus will be the exclusive Canadian provider of Trace soil diagnostics as part of the multi-year arrangement.

Walden Mutual

In this case study, meet Jimi Tutor and Kristen Klenow and learn how Walden Bank and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire helped the pair of sustainability-driven farmers realize their dream of owning their own land, a 135-acre former dairy farm now named after their dog, Clyde.

Clear Frontier

The latest post from the Clear Frontier team digs into why a healthy food system relies on healthy soil.

biotopeby VIB

BioVox interviewed Johan Cardoen, Managing Director of VIB, on his decades of work as a leader in agrifood innovation and his vision for the sustainable future of agriculture.


Two members of Aqua-Spark's leadership team gave interviews in September. CEO Lissy Smit shared insights on the trends and challenges of the aquaculture industry with AgFunder News.  Co-Founder Amy Novogratz spoke with IntraFish on the path to building the AquaSpark fund.

Funding News

Astanor Ventures Announces Record-breaking Fund Size

On September 19, Astanor Ventures closed a record-breaking fund size of €360million for its second venture fund. Astanor’s first fund launched just six years ago. The impact investment group now has over €800 million undermanagement and has invested in more than 45 promising, mission-driven companies globally.

Watch Astanor Venture’s video announcement on LinkedIn.

Blume Equity Partners with European Investment Fund

The European Investment Fund (EIF) recently made a €40 million commitment to climate tech fund, Blume Equity. The investment is the largest from EIF for a growth-stage fund. The investment aligns with EIF’s mission to support European small and medium enterprises (SME)s and ensure at least 25% of its activity is in climate and environment-related projects by 2024.

Read about the EIF and Blume Equity Partnership.

Omnivore’s OmniX Bio Initiative Helps altM Raise $3.5Million

altM, an investment of Omnivore’s OmniX Bio initiative raised $3.5 million in a seed round led by Omnivore. altM develops and manufactures biomaterials to help large industries reduce carbon footprints across their supply chains.

Foundation and Impact

The Water Cycle Series

The latest video in the Water Cycle Series launched on Investing in Regenerative Agriculture. Amidst news headlines on flooding, this edition is timely interview with Tim Coates, co-founder of Oxbury Bank Plc, Sell flood mitigation to institutional players to finance water cycle restoration.”

In case you missed previous episodes, you can find the full Water Cycle Series playlist on Investing in Regenerative Agriculture’s website.


The Nest attended the Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI) Forum in Denver, Colorado from September 25-27. It was an amazing event including farmers, investors, startups, foundations, and more. The event focused on the role of different forms of capital in accelerating the uptake of regenerative agriculture, the need to build and invest in the missing middle of regional, regenerative food webs, and the importance of understanding the nutritional quality of regeneratively grown and raised food. We cannot wait for RFSI to have its first in-person event Europe in Brussels in February 2024.


ReelData is hiring for multiple roles, including Senior Machine Learning Engineer, Human Resources Coordinator, and Business Analyst.

Propagate is looking for an Agroforestry Supply Chain Development Manager.

From the Farm

Domaine de Graux held its first Family Day event on September 24. Over 300 attended the event which included workshops and activities to explore sustainable agriculture and reconnect with nature. The successful event is one of many opportunities Domaine de Graux will offer to engage the local community with agroecology.

As preparations are underway to welcome the portfolio to Domaine de Graux on October 1, the team at the farm has been extra busy. Domaine hosted an event for the Colruyt Group’s Smart Farming team and Farm Operating Unit in September. The team has also been conducting soil tests and donated 80kilograms of zucchini to local food banks.

Please visit the new Domaine de Graux website to see stunning video and images and learn more about our mission.