PITTSBURGH — The Kraft Heinz Co. is launching Evolv Ventures, a venture capital fund that will invest in emerging technology companies focused on the food industry. The company said it is committing up to $100 million to the fund and has hired Bill Pescatello to lead the effort.
Mr. Pescatello most recently was a partner at Lightbank, a Chicago venture capital fund. Before that he was a founding member of the Peacock Equity Trust, a $250 million fund of GE Capital and NBCUniversal.
“New technological innovations in the food industry create endless new opportunities to strengthen business models,” said Bernardo V. Hees, chief executive officer of Kraft Heinz. “Through Evolv Ventures, we will work with tomorrow’s most innovative founders and companies in the space and use the full resources of Kraft Heinz to help them succeed.”
The company did not offer a definition of what it meant by emerging technology companies. During the past few years, several food company-focused venture capital funds have targeted new technologies.
Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, Ark., for example, through its Tyson Ventures fund has invested in the sector. In May, the company invested in Future Meat Technologies, Jerusalem, a biotechnology company working to develop a cost-effective method of generating meat from cells.
Tyson Ventures also has invested in FoodLogiQ, Durham, N.C., a company developing food traceability, food safety and supply chain transparency solutions that run on a single platform developed for the food industry. The company also has invested in Tovala, Chicago, the maker of a “smart oven” that may cook meals through its meal delivery service.
In 2016, the Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., took a stake in the personalized nutrition business Habit, San Francisco.
“At Evolv Ventures, we will move beyond brands to have a committed first look at our industry’s most promising and disruptive tech-enabled companies,” Mr. Pescatello said. “With the insights, data and access available at Kraft Heinz, we look to take full advantage of our unique position and be the foremost value-added investor in the space.”
Kraft Heinz said the new initiative will be based in Chicago.