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Santander takes 5% stake in largest natural biotech hub in Europe to help farmers switch from chemical to natural

Christian Fernsby |
Santander has acquired a 5% stake in Grupo Kimitec and its MAAVi Innovation Centre, the largest natural biotech hub in Europe.

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The bank’s holding, secured through the fund Fondo Agro Smart, is part of its strategy to help innovative, sustainable companies with high growth potential.

Since the Green Deal and the EU Farm to Fork strategy were approved, Spain’s Kimitec, which saw 80% higher turnover last year, has been known as a key company in making agribusiness more sustainable in Europe.

Santander España’s CEO, António Simões, says, “It’s a strategic deal for Santander. Not only are we entering the biotech industry; we’re [entering] alongside one of scaleups with the greatest chances of becoming the most profitable unicorn in the years to come. With this agreement, we will add value to our portfolio of agribusiness customers”.

According to Kimitec CEO Félix García, “At MAAVi Innovation Centre, we have a vision: changing the way food is produced. The current production model has met its end. In a moment marked by calls in the EU to cut synthetic chemicals, supermarket chains talking about zero waste, and more uncompromising consumers with growing concerns about health and sustainability, agribusiness is forced to transform. We were able to get ahead of this situation and, for over 15 years, [we’ve] been uncovering the power of nature to succeed in this challenge for a different, nature-inspired production model”.

In fact, Kimitec and the MAAVi Innovation Centre have closed several deals with Bollo, GS España, Pescanova and other leading companies, as well as with such agrochemical giants as UPL, which made the MAAVi Innovation Centre a strategic partner in its transition to a natural production model. Kimitec is also the only company in its sector with 5 EU Horizon projects, given its strategic capacity to steer agribusiness from chemicals to natural production methods.

From agriculture the Spanish scaleup has leaped into aquafarming, livestock (antibiotic substitutes in animal medicine and higher productivity) and other sectors, while aiding agribusinesses transition from chemicals to natural techniques. Its long-term plans include entering cosmetics (substitutes for pigments and active ingredients) and pharmaceuticals (substitutes for active ingredients).

The MAAVi Innovation Centre creates value for agribusinesses in three major ways: eliminating waste in raw material production (removing chemicals traced to their products); helping them obtain E-number clean labels (for food additives); and raising the cost of subproducts that harm the environment and companies’ bottom line.

With Santander’s equity stake, the Almeria-based Kimitec can build on the bank's advice to attract new customers across Santander’s footprint and expand internationally.

“In15 years of testing the concept in agriculture, we’ve come to lead the transition from chemicals to natural [products]. Now is the time for us to move on to agribusiness to achieve our purpose: changing how food is produced. Our goal with this strategic agreement with Santander is to partner with each and everyone of its agribusiness customers”, said Félix García.

Under the agreement, the two groups will work together on social projects. Kimitec’s not-for-profit organization, the MAAVi Foundation, believes diversity is a source of wealth for businesses and broader society. It builds on such values as respect, equality and loyalty to create opportunity for more than 400 children and their families in sport, education, nutrition and job placement.

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