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Leon co-founder seeks “better ways to feed the world” with new venture fund

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Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of healthy fast-food chain Leon, has announced the establishment of Bramble Partners, a venture capital firm on a mission to discover “better ways to feed the world.”

Chaired by Dimbleby, Bramble Partners aims to support businesses dedicated to making the food system more sustainable, healthier and more secure. The £50 million fund will be directed towards companies already demonstrating a positive impact in these areas.

Dimbleby, who is the author of the government-commissioned National Food Strategy, envisions Bramble Partners as a “catalyst for change” within the food industry. 

He told The Times: “The current global food system is disastrous both for our bodies and our planet: it is the single biggest cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, drought and fresh-water pollution, and the second-biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, it is also by far the biggest cause of preventable illness and death.”

He emphasised the urgency for change and optimism for the future, commenting: “Things have to change – and in fact, they already are. There are fantastic new businesses springing up all over the food system, using both cutting-edge technology and old wisdom to create better ways of feeding the world. We believe there is a significant opportunity for Bramble to accelerate change by championing these pioneering companies. We want to help UK entrepreneurs deliver what politicians have not yet been able to.”

Bramble Partners seeks to invest across the entire spectrum of food production and consumption, spanning ‘farm to fork’. Dimbleby highlighted five key areas of focus: new agriculture and fishing technologies, alternative production systems like vertical farming, health and nutrition, monitoring and management, and businesses specialising in waste reduction.

Omar Habbal joins the venture as the managing partner, while Anya Claxton takes on the role of chief operating officer. Dimbleby expects to make his initial investments this year, targeting companies from Britain, the US, Europe and Israel.

Reflecting on the venture, Dimbleby added: “I have a vision that in 10 to 15 years we will have backed some of the big companies in a new improved food system. A lot of venture capital firms have a knowledge gap about the food system, which has become unsustainable. It is a huge problem that people are just waking up to.”

Dimbleby and John Vincent, co-founder of Leon, sold the chain to EG Group, now operating as part of Asda. Dimbleby’s expertise in the food industry was further solidified during his tenure as the lead non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2018 to 2023.

The National Food Strategy, which Dimbleby led, produced its final report in the summer of 2021, advocating for government measures to promote healthier and more sustainable eating habits.

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