Stian Nygaard, investment director, Yara Growth Ventures, is one of our 50 rising stars in corporate venturing in 2023.
Clean hydrogen and ammonia are attracting more venture cash each year, and when you’re a crop nutrition specialist like Norway’s Yara International, having an expert in the field is a big advantage for your investment arm. Enter Stian Nygaard.
“If we want to reach climate targets then we need to decarbonise, go from the grey ammonia we produce today to green and blue,” says Nygaard, an investment director at Yara Growth Ventures.
“What we invest in is basically hydrogen without carbon – decarbonising existing assets and also looking at opportunities in new verticals for ammonia, as a marine fuel or a zero-carbon option for power production.”
Nygaard, who is based in Oslo, was once on the investment committee at research organisation Sintef’s venture subsidiary, before heading to Yara in 2018 and moving up to director of corporate affairs, partnerships and funding.
The next step was to join Yara Growth Ventures’ investment board in early 2021. A year later Nygaard moved from business development to investments full time. The position needs someone who’s analytical and open to ideas.
“We’re looking at companies that are trying to push boundaries, and to look at new things you have to be a bit open and reflective to see if they actually make sense or not,” he says. “Sometimes, for a large company, it might look like things aren’t possible but they actually are, so you have to try to be open to that.”
Yara Growth Ventures’ investments include Agrofy, an agri-fintech based in Argentina and Boomitra a company helping farmers earn carbon credits for capturing carbon in the soil. Nygaard is one of a team of five investors at Yara.
Corporate venture capital is still a relatively new endeavour for Nygaard, but he’s now leading deals from scouting to close, initially with Hydrogen Mem-Tech last May, and he’s looking to build something special at Yara Growth Ventures.
“I’ve never been very good at making long-term plans,” he says. “I’m still learning how to be a good CVC, so in five years’ time I’ll hopefully be better at executing deals and I’ll have a large portfolio within Yara.”
See the rest of our Top 50 Rising Stars for 2023 here.