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John Deere to buy Blue River Tech in $305 mln deal

Pontifax AgTech said Sept. 6 that it has sold Blue River Technology to John Deere. The deal was valued at $305 million. Pontifax AgTech led Blue River’s $17.5 million Series B funding round in December 2015. Other co-investors in the B round include Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and Data Collective. Blue River, of Sunnyvale, California, is a robotic crop management platform.

PRESS RELEASE

Santa Monica, CA – September 6, 2017 – Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (“Pontifax AgTech” or “the Fund”), a leading growth capital investor in the global agriculture technology sector, today announced the sale of its portfolio company, Blue River Technology (“Blue River”), a next-generation robotic crop management platform, to agricultural machinery manufacturer, John Deere, in a deal valued at $305 million.  Pontifax AgTech led Blue River’s $17.5m Series B funding round in December 2015, with co-investors including Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and Data Collective.

Phil Erlanger, Managing Partner of Pontifax AgTech and Board Member at Blue River, noted: “Our investment in Blue River reflects Pontifax AgTech’s strategy to partner with established, growing businesses that have disruptive technologies in agriculture.  We focus on actively supporting our portfolio companies to create industry leaders that improve agricultural sustainability and supply chain efficiency.  We have worked closely with Blue River’s leadership since our investment to support development of the Company’s next-generation ‘See & Spray’ capabilities, to broaden and scale the Company’s addressable markets, to execute on its strategic plan and to plan and transact a strategic acquisition of the Company by the right buyer.  We are delighted to have partnered with Blue River in a process that created compelling value for Blue River’s investors, employees and the farming community.  We are confident that the Company will continue to revolutionize crop production under John Deere’s ownership.”

Ben Belldegrun, Managing Partner of Pontifax AgTech, commented: “This transaction represents a landmark, not only for Pontifax AgTech, given this highly successful exit from our diverse portfolio of leading AgTech growth companies, but also for investors across the AgTech sector.  It underscores the compelling value creation prospects for pioneering AgTech companies like Blue River, as major strategic players seek to acquire technology platforms with proven capabilities to address fundamental food sustainability and regulatory pressures.”

Pontifax AgTech works with its extensive network of growers, technology experts and strategic corporate partners to make growth capital investments in fast-growing businesses with proven technologies that improve agricultural productivity, nutrition, health, sustainability and supply chain efficiency.  To date, Pontifax AgTech has made seven investments in five industry-leading companies.

Blue River Technology is a producer of cutting-edge robotic systems that use computer vision and artificial intelligence to observe, identify and precisely spray the correct inputs to individual plants.  Blue River’s technology enables precise, efficient crop production, reducing the volume of crop chemicals by up to 90 percent.  During the period of Pontifax AgTech’s investment, Blue River further refined and commercialized its ‘See & Spray’ technology, while expanding the application of its machines from lettuce and specialty vegetables to broad acreage row crops.  The platform was successfully rolled out to provide intelligent weeding solutions in cotton in 2017.

About Pontifax AgTech
Pontifax AgTech is a leading growth capital investor in the global food and agriculture technology (“AgTech”) sector. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and founded in 2014, Pontifax AgTech makes growth capital investments in fast-growing businesses with proven technologies that improve agricultural productivity, nutrition, health, sustainability and supply chain efficiency. Pontifax AgTech works in partnership with its extensive network of growers, technology experts and strategic corporate partners. For more information please visit https://www.pontifaxagtech.com/