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Ahold Delhaize, Tesco help found global grocery start-up fund

W23 global grocery VC fund
Five major global grocers are partnering to fund start-ups.

Five major global supermarket conglomerates are joining forces to invest in start-ups developing innovative grocery solutions.

The new collaborative venture capital fund, W23 Global, brings together five leading global grocery retailers: Ahold Delhaize (U.S., Europe, Indonesia), Tesco (U.K., ROI, Europe), Woolworths Group (Australia, New Zealand), Empire Company Limited/Sobeys Inc. (Canada) and Shoprite Group (Africa).  

W23 Global says it will seek to invest $125 million over five years in innovative global start-ups and scale-ups with the potential to transform grocery retail and address the sector’s sustainability challenges.  

W23 Global is designed to complement its partners’ continuing direct innovation and investment strategies. The fund’s portfolio companies will be free to contract with any customer, whether a W23 Global partner or otherwise, on whatever terms they decide. 

The fund is led by CEO and chief investment officer Ingrid Maes, who currently leads Australian grocery retailer Woolworths Group’s innovation fund, W23 Australia.  It is domiciled in the U.K. 

W23 Global says it will seek to invest in start-ups and scale-ups deploying technology to: 

  • benefit consumers by driving faster, more personalized and connected experiences across stores and online;  
  • create more efficient grocery value chains to the benefit of all stakeholders;  and,
  • address grocery’s biggest sustainability challenges from farm to household, including emissions and waste reduction, packaging innovation, product traceability and transparency, healthy choices and biodiversity. 

In addition to investing in early-stage businesses, W23 Global says it will seek out entrepreneurs to solve problems that are not currently being adequately addressed. 

"W23 is a potentially game-changing international VC fund with a powerful proposition for both our investors and portfolio companies,” said Maes. “We aim to offer our investors incomparable access to transformative innovation in grocery and sustainability worldwide. W23 Global will work with its investors to identify common unaddressed challenges and support entrepreneurs to develop solutions, offering faster pathways to global scale for portfolio companies. With leading grocery CEOs on our investment committee, founders can rapidly develop ideas based on an accelerated understanding of retailers’ needs.” 

“As pioneers in retail innovation for more than 150 years, Ahold Delhaize has consistently led the way in investing in the customer value proposition,” said Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller. “We look forward to enhancing our efforts by partnering with other industry leaders and maximizing our collective impact. Together with best-in-class start-ups and scale-ups, we strongly believe we can further drive retail innovation, foster sustainability, and deliver greater value to communities worldwide.”

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