UK investment fund Fast Forward Innovations has added Alfredo Pascual – one of Europe’s leading cannabis industry figures – to its team, as it looks to close in on a further two deals in short order.
Mr Pascual rose to prominence during his spell as German-based International Analyst at the US cannabis conference and news publishing outfit Marijuana Business Daily (MJBizDaily).
Speaking to BusinessCann he said he was excited by the opportunities that lie ahead with Fast Forward (FFWD) as its new Vice President of Investment Analysis.
“After spending recent years analysing the complex European cannabis industry, I am excited to now work with FastForward to find and assess companies which are well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities being presented in the sector, and which are potential investment opportunities for FastForward,” he said.
Ed McDermott, Chief Executive Officer of FFWD, said: “I am delighted to welcome Alfredo to our team; his experience and sector knowledge will be invaluable to FFWD’s shareholders as our investment focus increasingly leans towards health, wellness and medical cannabis.”
FFWD is the only European quoted investment fund with a stated focus on the cannabis space and features a portfolio of leading companies including; Northern Leaf, Yooma, South West Brands and Little Green Pharma.
It recently secured an additional £5m in funds following the sale of EMMAC Life Sciences to leading US cannabis player Curaleaf. EMMAC was co-founded by Mr McDermot and FFWD had a 2.3% stake .
FFWD says this exit cash brings it total investment pot to over £12m with Mr McDermott telling BusinessCann its expects to see ‘additional liquidity from legacy portfolio assets over the coming months’.
Adding: “The likelihood is that we will have a larger cash position to invest, than is currently stated, over the coming months.”
He also went on to say that it expects to boost its investee portfolio to ‘at least six, in the very short term’.
In his new role Mr Pascual will focus on sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities in the European medical cannabis industry as well as supporting the growth of FFWD’s portfolio companies in the sector.
Uruguay-born Mr Pascual moved to Germany to study and whilst undertaking a Masters in Public Policy, in 2016, he became ‘fascinated’ by drug policy.
Before joining MJBizDaily in 2018 he worked in international business development roles for different companies in the sector.
Looking ahead Mr Pascual believes his in-depth knowledge of the European cannabis space and its businesses will prove invaluable.
“The European cannabis markets could be huge, but at this early stage it’s not easy to identify the companies that will be the market leaders of tomorrow.
“That’s where my network of contacts across Europe and knowledge of the different markets and regulations becomes useful.”
As well as medical cannabis, hemp and CBD, FFWD is also seeking opportunities in supporting ancillary services.
He continued: “As a sector with an essentially uncapped upside but where companies need to find ways to unlock that potential, that means not simply producing medical cannabis or having a CBD brand. It means finding competitive advantages.
“We could be the investors that provide capital to the leading companies of tomorrow. But not just that. We can also offer them a unique combined expertise that includes things such as a clear path to liquidity, regulatory and market expertise, and a unique network to help expand the business.
“At this early stage, all segments have plenty of potential. More than the specific segment within the cannabis industry where a company operates, we care about what it is doing to unleash its potential.”
FFWD is an AIM-listed investment company focused primarily on disruptive, high-growth life sciences and technology businesses, as well as medical cannabis arena.
The company’s strategy is to identify early-stage opportunities that have an upcoming investment catalyst and grow its portfolio in terms of value whilst limiting the number of investee companies to a level where sufficient time and resource can be devoted.