26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Erin VanLanduit, managing director, Tyson Ventures

Erin VanLanduit is managing director of Tyson Ventures, the corporate venturing arm for protein-based food processing firm Tyson Foods. Founded in 1935 by John W Tyson and grown under three generations of family leadership, the company has a portfolio of products and brands including Tyson, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Wright, Aidells, IBP and State Fair.

Tyson Ventures partners and invests in promising entrepreneurial businesses that align with Tyson Foods’ corporate strategy and can benefit from the firm’s expertise and scale. Tyson Foods innovates continually to make protein more sustainable, tailors food products and raises the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. The Tyson Ventures team plays a role in delivering this innovation strategy.

Founded in December 2016 with $150m of capital, the fund seeks partnerships with startups that align with Tyson Food’s long-term corporate strategy. Tyson Foods focuses on providing affordable, nutritious and sustainable food from a variety of global sources to nourish the world’s growing population.

This approach is reflected in Tyson Ventures’ investment thesis, which centres its attention on protein-centric food products, technology enablers for the business and sustainability initiatives.

Tyson Ventures’ investment in plant-based shellfish substitute developer New Wave Foods is a salient example. Memphis Meats, which is working on a meat product that is generated directly from animal cells, is also among the unit’s portfolio companies.

In addition, the unit committed to venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures’ New Protein Fund I as a limited partner in 2019. Big Idea is concentrating on plant-based food, alternative protein and ingredient developers and is operating accelerators in the US and Singapore, and makes direct equity investments.

After VanLanduit joined Tyson Ventures in December 2019, the unit announced additional investment in food safety testing technology developer Clear Labs in May 2020. The startup has developed an automated food safety testing specialising in rapid foodborne pathogen detection.

Clear Labs has allocated the latest funding to the continued commercialisation of its food safety platform and has also ramped up its NGS technology for clinical applications, including the detection of Covid-19 with a lower false-positive rate than current diagnostics.

VanLanduit holds observer seats on the boards of Tyson Ventures’ portfolio companies: food safety tracing company FoodLogiQ, cellular meat technology developer Future Meat Technologies, plant-based seafood company New Wave Foods, pathogen-testing technology company Clear Labs, and ingredient technology developer MycoTechnology.

Prior to joining Tyson Ventures, VanLanduit had been director of business development in new ventures at consumer packaged goods manufacturer SC Johnson for two and a half years, after a seven-year stint at packaged food supplier McCain Foods in a series of marketing, innovation and M&A business integration roles. Before that, she held a variety of brand management roles at Kraft Foods and Terlato Wines International.

Preceding her corporate career, VanLanduit served six years as a field artillery officer in the US Army, where she was responsible for long-range cannon and rocket fires, leading soldiers through two combat deployments during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and III. The highest award attained during her military service is the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

VanLanduit holds a bachelor of science degree in American Legal Studies, with a concentration in nuclear engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business with concentrations in entrepreneurship, strategic management, general management and managerial and organisational behaviour.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF