The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Mary Kay James, Tyson Foods
Mary Kay James, a managing director at DuPont Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of the chemicals company undergoing a complex merger with peer Dow Chemical, and one of the unit’s founding members in 2003, last year announced her move to US-based meat processor Tyson Foods to run its new $150m fund.
Tyson New Ventures will invest in alternative proteins, food security and using the internet in the food chain. Its first deal was acquiriing 5% of Beyond Meat, which has created a plant-based protein, in October.
James, a GCV Rising Star in 2016 and 2017, said as well as securing three or four people for the deal team, she would be setting up an incubator to connect with companies as potential acquisitions.
At DuPont Ventures, James had responsibility for sourcing, analysing and executing strategic investments for its $15bn agriculture and nutrition businesses. She was promoted in 2013 to MD for agriculture, nutrition and health investments after more than nine years of investing in energy storage and solar investments. She also has experience as an adviser to cleantech VC American River Ventures. She is currently a board observer at AvidBiotics, an anti-bacterial company.
In 2015, James finished her tenure as chairman of the corporate venture group of US trade body the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Her work at the NVCA and other organisations has encouraged James, a post-graduate in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University, in her view that collaboration and discussions more broadly are worthwhile.
She said: “At a high level, CVCs have done a great job participating in and supporting industry groups. But building trusting relationships is what drives investing partnerships, so more work can be done on that side. Non-competing companies should make it a priority to develop co-investing relationships with other CVCs as well as do a better job at finding common areas to share investments.”
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