Green Jobs: what does a Foodtech Investment Manager do?
A Foodtech Investment Manager is key to helping new sustainable products and ideas develop and succeed in the food industry. Money enables innovation, and managing and sourcing new investment opportunities in the foodtech sector can help to bring new, greener transformation. Foodtech Investment Managers will typically work for venture capital firms (VCs) or accelerator programmes. They invest in commercially viable start-ups at various stages of growth and help them to scale their proposition and grow.
For example, if you see in the news that a company has raised several million in ‘pre-seed’ or ‘seed’ funding, or a ‘Series A’ round, a range of VC firms will have invested into the fund. An Investment Manager will have played a role in identifying the investment opportunity and helping start-ups build a new production plant or even launch a new product.
The title of this job may differ from firm to firm – it could also be called Director of Finance or Senior Venture Partner. If you are looking to make a difference in the food sector though, you want to aim to work for an organisation that prioritises investment in sustainable foodtech innovations.
What are the responsibilities?
- Looking for new investment opportunities, having an excellent understanding of the market and interest in agri-food tech products or technologies that they think will succeed.
- Evaluating and managing investments in early-stage and growth-stage start-ups
- Meeting with new founders to discuss their ideas and assessing their viability, what they need funding for, and offering guidance as to how they can improve their business
- Supporting existing deals, identifying any problems start-ups may have early on to avoid complication further down the line
Who might your employers be?
You’ll most likely be employed by VC firms who help to scale up start-ups in agri-foodtech, but you could also work for an investment bank financing food sustainability businesses or for a food giant.
Some big names working in the VC sphere include private companies like Synthesis Capital, AgFunger, Big Idea Ventures, Rockstart, S2G Ventures, and Five Seasons Ventures. There’s also the opportunity to work at organisations such as EU-supported EIT Food or non-profit ProVeg, which both offer regular opportunities for start-ups to receive investment and support through funding calls and accelerator programmes.
What qualifications do you need?
To work in venture capital, though there’s no required degree, some related qualifications that could help you apply for this role include:
- BSc Mathematics with Finance at University of Sussex
- BSc Accounting and Finance at University of Bristol
- BSc Accounting and Financial Management at University of Hull
- BSc in Business Management and Finance at University of Roehampton
- BSc (Hons) International Business, Finance and Economics at University of Manchester
- BSc Statistics at University of Nottingham
- BSc in Business Administration with Finance and The London Institute of Banking & Finance
- BA (Hons) Financial Management at University of Portsmouth
- BSc (Hons) Economics and Finance at University of Lincoln
- BSc (Hons) Mathematics offered at many universities in the UK including University of Kent, University of Surrey, Imperial College London and University of Salford
If you’re looking to enter investment management through a Master’s, some suitable courses could include:
- MSc Investment & Wealth Management at Imperial College Business School
- MSc Investment Management at Bayes Business School, City University of London or the ICMA Centre, University of Reading
- MSc Investments at University of Birmingham
While it isn’t as common an entry route, you can follow this career path via an apprenticeship in banking or finance to help you gain experience and learn about money management on the job. If you’ve finished your GCSEs you can apply to a range of Foundation apprenticeships which are offered by several UK banks, including Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Natwest and Santander. If you’ve completed your A Levels, or a Level 4 or 5 apprenticeship, you should be eligible to apply to higher level training courses at these companies as well.
It isn’t essential to have completed a degree or apprenticeship in a finance or business-related subject to get into this sector. For example, Matt Gill, Director of Finance & Operations at Synthesis Capital – which invests in companies trying to transform the food system – studied a BSc in Physics. It is important however to gain a decent level of experience working for a respected organisation in investment banking, technology, consulting, or a start-up. Prior to joining Synthesis Capital, Gill acquired Chartered Accountant, Chartered Financial Analyst qualifications as well as the CFA Institute Certificate in ESG Investing, and worked for one of the ‘big four’ accounting firms – PwC.
What is the salary like?
The role is usually quite well paid, ranging between £50,000 to £90,000. Depending on the size and success of the company you’re working for this amount could be even higher if you receive a bonus. As it’s unlikely you’ll enter a senior role for your first job in VC, the salary in an entry-level role like a Junior VC Associate or VC Analyst will typically be lower, but it could be anything between £30,000 and £50,000 or more, depending on your prior experience.
Where will you be working?
A Foodtech Investment Manager role at a VC firm, a bank or a food giant will usually be office-based and located at the firm headquarters in a city or town.
What is the career progression like?
There are a wide range of roles you’ll probably take on before you reach the stage of being an Investment Manager. You may begin working as an Analyst in investment banking, or as a Junior Consultant in technology or finance. Some starter jobs in VC could also include a Venture Capital Associate, Venture Capital Analyst, or VC Scout. After a couple of years in these roles you may be able to progress to Junior Partner, followed by Senior Partner, General Partner or Investment Manager.
You’re bound to experience many networking opportunities through this role, so there will often be a chance to progress once you reach a managerial level – which could be at a new company. It could also be worth becoming a member of a professional VC association. The most well known in the UK is the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.
Is there demand for this role?
This role is essential to accelerate the launch of new products and technology in the food industry. Sustainable innovations that could help to secure the future of our food system are needed now more than ever, and VC firms will be needed to fund and support these new ideas.