May 22, 2024

Why this CVC is putting economic growth and sustainability hand in hand to offer a ‘Win-Win’ formula for early-stage startups

Ahead of the HackSummit, we catch up with Hadar Sutovsky of ICL Planet Startup Hub to hear where she's looking to invest next

- Size of fund: ICL Planet Startup Hub is ICL’s corporate investments venture arm, budget is not limited, it's around $3-10 M$ per year and it's strategically focused on ICL’s core business.  
- Industry verticals:
Agtech, Foodtech and Climate (mainly energy storage techs and recycling) 
- Portfolio companies include:
Agrematch, Arkeon, Protera, Plantible Foods, Lavie Bio, CropX
- Investment stage:
Early stage 
- Geographies ICL Planet invests in: Global 
- Check size: up to $350K, $1M and more 

As the VP Corporate Investments at ICL Group, Hadar Sutovsky spearheads corporate venture capital investment initiatives. Scouting emerging talent has been a constant in her career as Managing Partner at Aquagro Fund, leading Innovation Scouting for the Global Unilever Open Innovation Hub, and as Corporate Open Innovation Leader at Frutarom, a global leader in flavors and food ingredients.

Drawing on this experience, she founded the ICL PLANET Startup Hub in 2021, serving as the conduit for innovative companies in crop nutrition, FoodTech and Climate. 

Before she joins us at the HackSummit this June 13-14, we caught up with Hadar to hear which technologies she’s excited by, her advice to fundraising startups and her strong convictions as an impact investor.

Let’s get to it…

As a climate and agrifood investor, Hadar has a deep-rooted belief in the interconnectedness of our planet’s health and our food systems. 

Convinced that sustainable and ethical practices in agriculture can significantly mitigate climate change, she shares her bold opinions with us.

“My strongest conviction is the unwavering faith in the potential of sustainable investments to generate not just financial returns, but also create a positive impact on the environment and society. I am driven by the vision of a world where economic growth and sustainability go hand in hand, and where businesses thrive while preserving the planet for future generations.”

Rising Trends

Hadar reveals two technologies that have caught her attention lately. 

- Carbon Utilization. This has the potential to create positive environmental iImpacts by enabling a more sustainable life cycle for captured carbon, providing lower environmental risks in addition to social rewards. 

- Opportunities in Energy Storage. This will play a crucial role in the clean energy transition, both for the automotive sector’s transition to green mobility, and for the transition to generating electricity from more reliable and sustainable technologies. 

A Win-Win Formula

Hadar describes ICL Planet Startup Hub's unique model of corporate venture capital (CVC) as a “win-win formula”; by investing directly in startups in exchange for equity but also ensures a firm strategic collaboration. For ICL, the aim of such collaborations is to access novel technologies and secure a competitive edge in their respective dynamic and rapidly evolving industry. In return, young companies receive financial backing, resources, and—importantly— validation. These are all essential levers for getting their concept off the ground and into materialization.

Navigating Fundraising in 2024

When seeking initial funding for a Climate startup, Hadar outlines 6 strategies for success:

- Prioritize a compelling pitch outlining your unique value proposition. 

- Clearly articulate how your innovation addresses market needs. 

- Develop a comprehensive business plan, emphasizing scalability and sustainability. 

- Showcase your strong team expertise.

- Engage with potential investors, demonstrating your passion and commitment. 

- Be transparent about potential challenges and mitigation strategies. 

And for scaleups, Hadar advises showing meaningful progress towards growth milestones, regardless of your valuations, while fine-tuning your value proposition.

Next Up. HackSummit

Hear from Hadar live on stage when she joins us in Lausanne on the panel discussion ‘Fast Tracking FoodTech Innovation’ to hear about the role of AI and SynBio along with Russ Tucker of Twig Bio, Jasmin Hume of Shiru, Mihir Pershad of Umami Bioworks, Maria Cho of Triplebar and Ed Steele of Hoxton Farms.