Sydney agtech startup Leaf has raised $3.5 million in a bridge round for indoor agriculture light-emitting plastics.
The round was led by Danish investment firms ALFA Ventures and 2 Degrees, with additional support from the University of New South Wales and Cicada Innovations, the deep-tech hub where Leif is based.
It is 2 degrees. A climate-focused private investment vehicle Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, CEO and Chairman of NREP, European Urban Development Company.
Industrial chemists Dr. Alexander Soriadi and Dr. Alexander Falber Lef in 1999. Founded in 2016 at the University of NSW, they spent the next five years developing a series of patented light-absorbing and emitting plastics that improve the quality of sunlight and artificial light for greenhouse and indoor growing, resulting in an average crop yield increase of around 20%.
The reflective dyes used in plastic roofs in greenhouses absorb light from one color and emit it in another. That light spectrum can be tailored for specific applications, such as increasing photosynthesis or simulating seasonal changes in flowers and fruit.
Leif – whose name is an acronym for Agricultural Film Shining Light – shipped its first product in February this year and sold out in June, now raising funds ahead of schedule for a Series A in October.
The hot capital drew the attention of two climate-focused Danish investments for a New Scientist article published earlier this year in Leaf.
Chris Wilkins, Leif’s commercial director, says it’s easy to see the strategic value of opening a bridge to Denmark so that the startup can focus on accelerating sales and developing new products.
“From the first conversations it was clear that we were on the same page, they understood the technology at a scientific level and shared our vision of its potential to increase food production in a sustainable way,” he said.
“Denmark has been a leader in renewable and sustainable technology, so it’s no surprise that they actively support tomorrow’s green solutions. Beyond cash, ALFA Ventures and 2 Degrees have deep experience creating in the built environment.
“Cicada Innovations is a pillar of the Australian startup ecosystem. They have been instrumental in growing our businesses, and UNSW is known for their leadership in fostering entrepreneurship in academia – some of Australia’s best startups. It’s great to have their support from day one and going forward.
“Leaf technology allows for more efficient use of agricultural land, thus reducing the overall human impact on the environment as it has the potential to be more sustainable,” said Copenhagen-based Clive Iley of 2 Degrees.
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