Research Park Startup Agrible Acquired by Nutrien for $63 Million

Category : Partnerships & Acquisitions
Posted on: July 16, 2018

For more news on the deal:

Fox Illinois
The News-Gazette
PR Newswire
Chicago Business Journal


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nutrien, a publicly traded Canadian fertilizer company, announced its plans to acquire Research Park startup Agrible for $63 million on Monday. The deal is expected to close by the end of the month. 

Agrible, a precision analytics company, analyzes and provides agronomic information using science and technology to transform results into useful knowledge. Agrible had raised more than $13 million in venture capital, and was twice named to the THRIVE 50, an annual list created by SVG Partners that ranks the best AgTech companies in the United States. Its tools have 17,000 grower users that represent approximately 11 million acres in aggregate.

“The acquisition of Agrible is consistent with our strategy of investing in the growth of Nutrien’s Retail business to further strengthen and differentiate our leading global position,” said Chuck Magro, President & CEO of Nutrien in a news release. “We expect to recognize significant strategic and financial benefits from the transaction by leveraging Agrible’s capabilities to deliver unique, value-enhancing solutions across our Retail network.”

Founded in 2012, Agrible now has 55 employees and is headquartered in Champaign at the University of Illinois Research Park. It is a graduate of the Research Park’s EnterpriseWorks tech incubator. 

The company is a true local success story. Agrible has collaborated with multiple Research Park companies, including working with Anheuser Busch InBev on forecasting barley yield; with John Deere on mobile apps; and received investment from ADM. Its first customers and users were located in Central Illinois. 

Its lead investor, Serra Ventures, starting from seed round through its Series B, is also based in the Research Park. In addition to named investors such as Flyover Capital and Maumee, multiple local angel investors had participated in Agrible’s various raises.

The startup acquistion is one of the largest in the state of Illinois this year, trailing only Home Chef ($200 million) and Maestro Health ($155 million). 

“Agrible has dedicated its business strategy and development activity to building market-leading data science and digital tools that provide growers with the information and insights they need, when and where they need them,” said Paul Miller, Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder of Agrible in a news release. “We have a strong fundamental belief that the most effective means of scaling and delivering the value of Agrible’s tools is by leveraging and empowering the important role that agricultural retailers play in supporting growers’ ability to sustainably maximize crop production. As a result, this exciting combination with Nutrien Ag Solutions is the ultimate validation of our strategy and the ideal platform to significantly scale-up the capabilities that we have built, while continuing to grow and enhance the value we provide our global sustainability customers.”

Agrible was founded by Chris Harbourt, Paul Miller and Bill Northcott, three PhD scientists who are University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumni. The company, then called Ag Informatics, moved into the incubator in early 2014.

With the help of resources available through EnterpriseWorks and Research Park, Agrible launched Morning Farm Report and made important connections in the community with growers and other Research Park companies.

It graduated from EnterpriseWorks in late summer 2015 and moved into custom constructed space at 2021 S. First Street in the Research Park, where it remains today. 

Agrible timeline: 

July: Nutrien Announces Acquisition of Agrible for $63 million
January: Named to the THRIVE 50, an annual list created by SVG Partners that ranks the best AgTech companies in the United States, for the second time.

September: Announces formal partnership with AB InBev
September: Announces Series B funding, $9.7 million. The first close was led by Maumee Ventures, the venture arm of The Andersons grain handling company. Other investors: iSelect FundFlyover Capital, Archer Daniels Midland, Serra Ventures
January:  Named to the THRIVE 50, an annual list created by SVG Partners that ranks the best AgTech companies in the United States.

Summer: Agrible and AB InBev began work together to forecast barley yield and quality factors through better crop modeling and predictive analytics for American farmers, announce global partnership in September 2017.
May: Announced that Morning Farm Report received an Ag Data Transparent seal backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

November: Celebrates Grand Opening of a new office in the University of Illinois Research Park 
July: Announced $4.1 million Series A round of funding, led by Serra Ventures. Co-investors include ADM and Flyover Capital. 
March: Company wins the 2015 Innovation Celebration New Venture Award (VIDEO HERE)
February: Launched Morning Farm Report
Company changes it name from Ag Informatics to Agrible. 

April: Raises seed funding from Serra Ventures. 
January: Company enters the EnterpriseWorks incubator. 

Company Founded.