Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Woolworths backs global innovation fund

Woolworths Group has teamed up with four international grocery retailers to establish a collaborative venture fund, W23 Global, to accelerate innovation across retail.

Joining the Australian retailer are Tesco (UK, ROI, Europe), Ahold Delhaize (US, Europe, Indonesia), Empire (Canada) and the Shoprite Group (Africa). Each retailer is an equal funder and partner in W23 Global, while their CEOs will sit on the investment committee.

The fund will seek to invest in innovative start-ups and scale-ups that deploy technology to enhance customer experiences both in-store and online, increase productivity across the grocery value chain and address the sector’s sustainability challenges, looking at everything from biodiversity in agriculture to sustainable packaging.

“W23 Global is a pioneering international VC fund with a uniquely powerful proposition for both our investors and portfolio companies,” says W23 Global CEO and Chief Investment Officer Ingrid Maes.

“At a time when innovation is reshaping retail and value chains across the economy, we aim to offer our investors incomparable access to transformative innovation in grocery and sustainability across the globe.

“W23 Global will also work with its investors to identify common unaddressed challenges and identify entrepreneurs best placed to innovate new solutions. Our ambition is to offer our portfolio companies faster pathways to global scale, without being exposed to a venture fund anchored by a single strategic investor.

“With five of the world’s leading grocery CEOs sitting on our investment committee and access to our broader ecosystem, our founders can test and develop their ideas quickly based on an accelerated understanding of retailers’ needs.”

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