Mars' pet food and veterinary subsidiary has teamed up with Digitalis Partners to launch a second Companion Fund, following a $100m predecessor in 2018.

White and brown dog running across grass with coloured ball in its mouth
Photo courtesy of Anna Dudkova via Unsplash

Pet product manufacturer Mars Petcare unveiled a $300m second investment fund in partnership with venture capital firm Digitalis Partners today as it looks to increase its exposure to animal health startups.

The first Companion Fund was formed by the two in 2018 with $100m in capital and it remains the largest pure-play corporate VC fund in the sector, targeting veterinary diagnostics and medicine along with digital platforms that can improve the standard of pet health.

Mars is predominantly known for its confectionery but subsidiary Mars Petcare is the largest pet food manufacturer in the world, overseeing brands such as Pedigree and Whiskas while owning more than 2,500 veterinary practices. Companion Fund was formed alongside Leap Venture Studio, an accelerator partnership with CVC unit R/GA Ventures.

The firms have not revealed whether the larger second fund will represent an expansion to Companion Fund’s general ticket size, which was pegged at $2m to $5m per deal in 2019, when it told Digiday it had invested in 20 startups.

“Our goal is to support pet care founders accelerating the trajectory of startups, helping to fuel the growth of pet care businesses and to contribute to the future of the pet care industry,” said Mars Petcare president Loïc Moutault in a press release today.

“We’re excited to support entrepreneurs and innovators in creating new products and services that deliver on our purpose: ‘A Better World for Pets.’”

The fund’s existing portfolio companies include plant-based dog food brands Wild Earth and Bright Planet, pet health test provider MySimplePetLab and pet pharmacy Mixlab.

Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.