InvestEU in Germany: EIF and KfW Capital support female Green Generation Fund for sustainable startups

  • EIF contributes €25 million, KfW Capital €10 million of €100 million raised by the Green Generation Fund.
  • The focus of the investments lies in plant-based protein production instead of factory farming, CO2 avoidance, resource protection and health.
  • The EIF investment is one of the first in Germany under the new InvestEU programme.

The Green Generation Fund (GGF) founded by Manon Littek and Janna Ensthaler has raised €100 million for investments in innovative food tech and green tech startups. The European Investment Fund (EIF) contributed €25 million backed by an EU budget guarantee from the new InvestEU programme. KfW Capital provided €10 million. Littek and Ensthaler are thus among the very few female founders in Europe who have raised capital on this scale.

The Green Generation Fund invests exclusively in sustainable startups that make significant progress in CO2 avoidance, the circular economy, climate and resource protection, health promotion and biodiversity.

The aim is to strengthen the new food tech and green tech industries in Germany, Europe and the United States and to contribute to CO2 reduction in the agricultural and food sectors. Funding is provided, for example, for plant protein extraction and innovations in fermentation and cell cultivation. In addition, the reduction of shelf life substances in the food industry as well as more sustainable packaging, supply chains, carbon capture solutions and green tech software are being considered.

The EIF’s investment is one of the first in Germany under the new InvestEU programme, which provides the European Union with crucial long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable recovery. It will also help mobilise private investments for EU policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transition.

In addition to the EIF and KfW Capital, the founders have brought a circle of private investors on board, including Florian Wendelstadt as anchor investor, and family offices such as Kaltroco, Burda and SAP founding family Hopp.

Some of the Green Generation Fund’s first investments are supporting these three startups in Berlin:

  1. The Rainforest Company is a nutrition brand that helps to preserve and protect the rainforest through sustainably and fairly produced superfoods.
  2. Neggst, a spinout of the Frauenhofer Institute, produces and sells a plant-based egg alternative that can be processed like a conventional chicken egg, thereby aiming to replace mass laying batteries.
  3. Klim offers a software platform to help farmers move into regenerative agriculture. Through carbon farming — for example, storing CO2 in the soil — farmers have the opportunity to generate CO2 certificates. Klim not only enables simple and direct accounting of these CO2 certificates, but also makes this information available along the value chain all the way to the consumer.

Littek and Ensthaler are experienced entrepreneurs. Before setting up the Green Generation Fund, Manon Littek worked as chief executive officer of Katjesgreenfood for five years and sits on the supervisory board of the world’s largest plant-based food company, Upfield. Janna Ensthaler is a serial entrepreneur in the food, beauty and tech sectors in Europe and the United States. Besides Glossybox — a beauty box for cosmetics and make-up — and restaurant chain Kaiserwetter, she founded Event Inc, Europe’s first and leading online marketplace for the event industry.

European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: “Securing the green transition will require sustained investment. That is where InvestEU can play a crucial role. I am delighted that the new InvestEU programme is backing this EIF investment to support startups specialising in green technologies. This financing agreement will enable them to access the finance they need to invest in innovation, expansion and job creation. I am looking forward to seeing many other innovators follow suit.”

EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard said: “We at the EIF are proud to support such a large innovative fund set up by such creative and experienced female founders. Creating new plant-based food for industrial food production is a highly innovative concept for a venture capital fund. This fund is one of the first to be supported by InvestEU, and its first investments in startups can potentially create new markets and an environment for future sustainable companies in Europe.”

KfW Capital Co-CEO Jörg Goschin said: “We are delighted about the outstanding fundraising success of Manon Littek and Janna Ensthaler with their Green Generation Fund. The investment strategy of the fund is focused on innovative solutions for sustainable consumption along the entire value chain to make significant contributions to achieving climate goals. The Green Generation Fund is an impressive example of the vast opportunities the venture capital ecosystem has to offer in the green tech sector.”

Manon Littek, founder of the Green Generation Fund, said: “The Green Generation Fund is now investing in the third wave of the plant-based food revolution: clean, functional, healthy plant proteins derived through fermentation, cell cultivation and new ingredients such as mushroom roots. Many startup founders are vegans themselves, live sustainably and don’t want to work for short-term profit. They really value funds like the Green Generation Fund because they want to bring these new thoughts into the world and manifest them.”

Janna Ensthaler, founder of the Green Generation Fund, said: “We rely on entrepreneurs who develop solutions for the really big problems of our time. Governments around the world are increasingly recognising the commitment to drive this issue forward through both strong regulation and massive subsidies. Generation Z and millennials are also fed up of factory farming and a life that pushes our blue planet to its limits. These generations will be riding high on the plant-based food revolution and the introduction of CO2 reducing and more sustainable measures. This is where we invest.”

Background information:

 The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with crucial long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable recovery. It also helps mobilise private investments for EU policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transition. The InvestEU programme brings together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the European Union, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The programme consists of three components: the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub, and the InvestEU Portal. The InvestEU Fund is implemented through financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. The entire budgetary guarantee will back the investment projects of the implementing partners, increase their risk-bearing capacity and thus mobilise at least €372 billion in additional investment.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments that specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

 KfW Capital is KfW’s venture capital subsidiary and invests in European venture capital funds with the support of the German Federal Government’s ERP Special Fund and the Future Fund. The aim of KfW Capital is to sustainably strengthen the venture capital fund landscape in order to provide innovative technology companies in Germany with better access to growth capital. To this end, KfW Capital invests on the same terms as private investors under the ERP VC Fund Investments Programme and the ERP/Future Fund Growth Facility. The venture capital funds commit to invest at least the amount of capital contributed by KfW Capital in German high-growth enterprises. In its investments, KfW Capital applies its sustainability policy and exclusion list. It attaches great importance to the compliance of target funds with ESG criteria.

The Green Generation Fund is a new European early-stage (pre-seed to series A) environmental impact investor investing across Europe and the United States. One of the biggest funds (€100 million) in this space in Europe, and the only one that is purely female led by partners Manon Sarah Littek and Janna Ensthaler, they hope to enable growth in the two most important ecosystems of this decade — food tech and green tech — and hence make a significant contribution to solving the climate crisis.