Mark Brooks, managing director of FMC Ventures, is one of our Top 50 Emerging Leaders in corporate venturing for 2024.

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Mark Brooks ascended to lead a corporate venture unit barely 18 months ago, when he was appointed FMC Ventures’ managing director following two and a half years in the CVC arm of a larger agribusiness, Syngenta. But he’s liking the change. 

“I’ve really enjoyed FMC a lot,” he says. “It’s a much smaller company than Syngenta and I would argue it’s a bit more entrepreneurial, nimbler, quicker to make decisions. 

“I’ve enjoyed the ability to influence strategic direction but also to get better acquainted with quicker insights from people in the company, and to make those connections between startups and the right people in FMC and our ecosystem.” 

The move has also allowed Brooks to begin building a team at FMC Ventures. He hired an associate last year, and a principal has just come onboard, but he’s willing to be patient when it comes to finding the right people. It’s an approach he says extends to the agricultural technology sector in general, especially after a turbulent 2023.  

“These aren’t software companies,” Brooks says. “They take a long time to develop and prove their technology. So, for us, being patient with that process is really important. And patience extends to the fits, starts and pivots that are inevitably going to happen along the way.” 

Ultimately, what Brooks enjoys about the corporate part of VC is that while there’s still a financial objective, it’s outweighed by FMC’s strategic needs: for knowledge, technologies, capabilities and co-development opportunities. The ideal is to achieve something with a startup neither company could by themselves. 

“We need to find and invest in companies and technologies we think are game-changers for the future of crop protection and maybe even FMC itself,” he adds. “There’s no finish line for doing that but in my mind, success means having been able to do something as a company and industry that would not have been possible otherwise.”