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By Jessica Pothering,

US agrifood giant Cargill has recreated Cargill Ventures, a dedicated VC unit to lead its startup investment activities.

A few years ago, Cargill decided to change the way it interacted with startups and invested in them, preferring a decentralized approach which saw separate business units engage in external innovation endeavors.

In recent years, the Minnesota-based company relied on the expertise and experience of its business unit teams to make external investment and partnership decisions. Each of its four groups - Cargill Protein & Salt, Animal Nutrition & Health, Ag Supply-Chain, and Food Ingredients & Bioindustrials - were given discretion in hunting for and backing innovations changing the way food is grown, processed, and distributed.

That has now changed and at the end of last year, Cargill - the biggest private company in the world - consolidated each business unit's venture investing and partnership activity under a newly-centralized entity. In the new iteration of Cargill's corporate VC (CVC) model, experienced business-unit operators will partner with a team of venture experts on deal origination, evaluation, and execution, Cargill's new head of corporate ventures Erin VanLanduit told AFN.

The newly-established CVC team has the mandate to define Cargill's corporate investment strategy for growth-stage startups, and will also play an important role in driving knowledge sharing across the businesses, ultimately having accountability for delivering strategic value from Cargill's venture portfolio, VanLanduit shared.

The new approach identifies "two main strategic pillars" for where venture activity will be focused: "Areas that will help to grow or protect the core businesses, or those that enable them to look around the corner at emerging technologies and markets."

This shift aligns Cargill's CVC approach with peers like Syngenta Ventures, ADM Ventures, FMC Ventures, and others.

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