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AgTech Investments

UK based agtech firm secures £750,000 equity investment

Agtech venture Agxio has secured a £750,000 equity to support its ambitious growth plans. The £750,000 equity investment comes from a mix of existing investors and the Development Bank of Wales alongside match funding from new professional investors.

“We are delighted to be working with the Development Bank of Wales who were always our preferred key strategic partner for the company and our plans in Wales. Wales is a world leader in both farming and technology. We aim to bridge both of those skills to create innovation in the food supply chain both domestically and internationally.”

Agxio chief executive and co-founder, Dr Stephen Christie

Backed by a world-class team of data scientists, engineers, domain specialists, technologists and commercial entrepreneurs, Agxio manages two flagship platforms: Apollo & Centaur.

  • Apollo operates beyond-human-scale performance, enabling the robotic platform to evaluate critical data to produce predictive models to solve real world problems. It then optimises these to look for patterns or configurations of parameters that human modellers may not even consider or have the patience to develop.
  • Agxio’s Centaur incorporate artificial intelligence and the latest advances in data and agricultural science to encode and enable industry best practice for all practitioners within agriculture. Innovation, driven by forward thinking and rigorous, scientifically principled activity connects all producers and suppliers in one ecosystem.

Life sciences, biotech and agricultural industries have been dramatically transformed through the availability of large volumes of data through IoT innovation and advances in technologies. Through the use of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Digital Innovation, we deliver actionable insights into these industries. We automate the data scientist and enable use cases in any complex data rich environment to deliver optimised machine learning solutions.

Agxio Industry Focus

The development bank’s equity investment from the Wales Technology Seed Fund will give them the potential to harvest the vast benefits that machine learning and data science can bring.

Read more at BusinessLive

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AgTech Investments

Israeli agtech startup Saturas has raised $3 million in Series B funding

Israeli precision irrigation system company Saturas has introduced the completion of first part of a Series B funding round of $3 million. The financing round was from former investors Gefen Capital and Hubei Forbon Technology alongside a new investor, the Trendlines Agrifood Fund.

“We believe that Saturas’ unique technology for measuring stem water potential is poised to change the way farmers manage their irrigation – providing a highly accurate method to reduce water use, at the same time as improving the quality of fruit. Our investment represents the fund’s commitment to investing in technologies that address food and agricultural production in a sustainable way, using innovative knowledge and a team with proven capabilities. Saturas checks all those boxes.”

Trendlines Agrifood Fund CEO Nitza Kardish

Saturas develops a Decision Support System (DSS) based on miniature Stem Water Potential (SWP) sensor that is embedded into the trunks of trees, vines, and plants. As part of an automatic irrigation system, the Saturas sensor provides accurate information for optimized irrigation in order to reduce water consumption and increase fruit production and quality.

“Following our expansion of sales and operations in the US through our California-based subsidiary, and in Europe, South America and China, this investment enables further market and sales expansion, and development of our production capabilities. We are working to complete the full funding round by the end of the year.”

Saturas CEO Anat Halgoa

Stem Water Potential (SWP) is a scientifically recognized, highly accurate parameter, for determining water status in crops. Saturas’ Stem Water Potential (SWP) sensing system automatically collects accurate data using a minimal number of sensors per hectare (1 – 2 sensors). It transmits the processed data to the central automated irrigation control system.

The technology tailors irrigation to real-time water needs of the crop, resulting in more efficient water use and increased yields, fruit size and sugar content (e.g., vineyards). Embedding the sensor into the trunk eliminates the common problem of damage to sensors placed in the soil or on the tree/vine. With direct and reliable information on crop water status, farmers can save water and increase yields.

Read more at Globes

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AgTech Investments

Agri-Innovation Center in Southern Israel

Arieli Capital has signed a cooperation agreement with Ramat Negev Regional Council and Ramat Negev Industries, for the establishment of an agri-tech innovation center, within the jurisdiction of the regional council in southern Israel. The objective of the innovation centre is to expand the economic potential of the region’s agricultural sector and the agricultural research and development capabilities developed in the region in recent decades.

$5 million will be invested in the project. The center will focus on areas of expertise of the region including general agriculture, desert agriculture, marine agriculture, medical cannabis and more. The Eilat Technology Center (ETC), a subsidiary of Arieli Capital will take the lead in this venture, with the participation of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and other investors.

Ramat Hanegev is one of the largest and most successful agricultural regions in Israel. It covers 1.050 million acres and accounts for about 22 percent of Israel’s total land area. 

5 to 10 promising startups will be selected by senior officials in the agricultural and investment fields to participate in the center’s ag-tech accelerator. Entrepreneurs will be offered several assistance options including financial support and mentoring by technology and business experts from the agriculture and food industries, access to labs, and R&D facilities with the overseeing of the commercialization process.

Read more at Globes

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AgTech Investments

Greeneye Technology, an Israeli AgTech startup closed a seed funding round of $7 million

Greeneye Technology, a leading AgTech company with a focus in precision agriculture, announced that it closed a seed funding round of $7 million, led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and participation from Syngenta Ventures, 2B Angels, One Way venture, Panache Ventures Techstars, and Hyperplane Venture Capital.

The company is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel and was established in 2017. The founders have been working closely as a team since 2004, after serving together in the Israeli Special Air Force Unit. Greeneye provides an alternative and sustainable solution for the current crop protection practice in order to meet the globally growing demand for food, while increasing the profitability and productivity for farmers.

We are thrilled to have JVP an international leading VC fund and Syngenta as a strategic and industry expert investors to help fuel Greeneye’s growth. Both our investors share with us the understanding that the way farmers spray chemicals in agriculture is about to be massively disrupted to a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Nadav Bocher, Co-Founder and CEO, Greeneye Technology

Greeneye utilizes artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to revolutionize the pest control process in agriculture, transitioning from the current practice of broadcast and wasteful spraying of pesticides to precise spraying in real-time. Greeneye’s proprietary selective spraying (SPP) system turns every sprayer into a smart machine with seamless integration, and saves up to 90% of the chemical cost.

Greeneye’s technology maps an entire field with cameras at a plant level resolution, offering a robust scouting solution for detecting and killing weeds. Currently, farmers worldwide spray their fields uniformly without distinguishing between crops, soil, and weeds.

Read more at PR Newswire

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AgTech Investments

South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry

Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. This helps in early problem detection and offer personalised solutions to tree and wine farmers and optimise crop performance. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.

Food security was of paramount importance, and the Aerobotics platform provided a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO at Naspers

Aerobotics uses drone flights to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high resolution drone imagery. This helps in identification of areas needing attention by a real time comparison with historical satellite health data, and make data driven decisions on the farm, using AI-based analytics platform. Aerobotics provide tools to make actionable decisions on the farm for

  • Orchard Management
  • Problem Tree Identification
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Yield Management

Aerobotics has demonstrated success in the ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. The services are very relevant to commercial-scale farmers and crop insurance companies who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.

Read more at Disrupt Africa.

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AgTech Investments

Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services

Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) is the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand. The Group’s businesses underwrite almost $12 billion of premium per annum, selling insurance under many leading brands. IAG, Australia’s largest general insurer, made the investment in Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) through its $75 million venture capital fund Firemark Ventures.

In April, Firemark Ventures also bought a stake in US start-up Arturo, which applies similar methods as those used by DAS – aerial imaging, AI, data analytics – to an urban setting, assessing risks to individual residential and commercial properties.

Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company was established in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science and research agency, in 2017, with a mission to deliver reliable rural intelligence. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.

Despite the importance of food and agriculture to our economy, rural data is patchy and fragmented; inaccessible or unintelligible; or simply not connected in a way that’s useful. Every day, business, policy makers and farmers are making decisions without reliable rural data or analytics. This lack of data not only means billions in decisions are being based on inaccurate, unreliable or incomplete data – it means agriculture’s risk profile is far higher than it should be.

Problem statement – DAS

DAS’ founders believe that by providing the most reliable rural intelligence possible, we can give today’s decision makers the data they need to make more informed decisions. Decisions that build competitive advantage, wealth and prosperity for all.

Read more at Financial Review

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Food Security Investments

ADQ’s strategy to support the UAE’s agri-food ecosystem

Abu Dhabi’s, ADQ has agreed to acquire a 50 per cent stake to buy 50% stake in agri-food specialist Al Dahra Holding. Al Dahra is a prominent multinational leader in agribusiness, specializing in the cultivation, production and trading of animal feed and essential food commodities and end-to-end supply chain management. Serving a large customer base spanning the Government and Commercial sectors, Al Dahra has a widespread geographic footprint, with a workforce of 5,000 employees, operating in over 20 countries and catering to more than 45 markets, with a leading position in Asia and the Middle East.

“Food and agri-business is of importance to ADQ’s strategy because it is high growth and important for Abu Dhabi’s socio-economic agenda. Since 1995 when Al Dahra was founded in the UAE, it has grown into a global food and animal feed company and is a pillar of Abu Dhabi and our country’s food security mandate. Al Dahra will complement our existing efforts to extend ADQ’s reach in food production and distribution. With our investment, Al Dahra will be well positioned to further expand its reach and footprint while enabling Abu Dhabi to reach its goals of continuing to diversify its food sources and growing into a regional food hub.”

H.E. Mohammed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Chief Executive Officer of ADQ

Al Dahra owns and operates 15 state-of-the-art forage processing and baling facilities globally. The company also cultivates different types of fresh produce, including a wide range of fruits and vegetables, as well as grains with infrastructure to facilitate grains’ trading. Al Dahra operates three rice mills with capacity to supply 500,000 tons annually in India, Pakistan and the UAE.

The company also owns shares in three flour mills in Greece and Bulgaria that have the capacity to supply 500,000 tons annually. Additionally, the company has an olive oil production plant in Morocco with an annual production capacity of 10,000 tons, and dairy farms in Serbia and the UAE with 20,000 cows and a production capacity of 80 million liters of milk annually.

Read more at Al Dahra

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AgTech Investments

Yamaha Motor Ventures invest AUD $11 million into Australian AgTech, The Yield

The Yield Technology Solutions (“The Yield”), a leading Australian agricultural technology company, received investment of AUD $11 million, led by Yamaha Motor Ventures. Yamaha Motor Ventures is the strategic business development and investment arm of global technology organisation, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. The Yield is developing its proprietary digital application providing microclimate data and predictive insights to support critical production decisions for large commercial growers in the specialty crops industry.

“The Yield is poised to be The Climate Corp of horticulture and we look forward to supporting the team’s strategic plan to scale its data-driven solution to the global specialty crop market.”

Yamaha Motor Ventures 

The Yield works closely with produce growers to design their products and committed to solving real challenges – at farm level and throughout the food chain. They are on a mission to transform food and farming practices by building secure, scalable digital technology. The Yield’s Sensing+ combines sensors and analytics to provide information and predictions in easy-to-use apps that help large commercial growers make important on-farm decisions like when to irrigate, feed, plant, protect and harvest.

Read more at The Yield

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Investments Trade

Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra Holding signed a deal with Bulgaria-based AJD Agro

Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra Holding has signed a deal to cultivate and supply essential crops and forage across Bulgaria. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with Bulgaria-based AJD Agro and includes alfalfa and other grasses. Al Dahra previously invested in the country through Loulis Mills, the Greek-based flour miller, which acquired the largest flour mill operator in Bulgaria.

AJD Agro cultivates more than 4,000 hectares of land spread across the Lovech region and currently operates an alfalfa dehydration plant with an annual alfalfa production capacity of 20,000 metric tons.

Read more at Arabian Business

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Investments Strategy

Brand divestment: Hershey’s plans to sell KRAVE, Scharffen Berger and Dagoba

Hershey is looking to divest its high-flying jerky brand KRAVE along with its artisan chocolates Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, Hershey CEO Michele Buck told analysts. KRAVE, a high-end jerky and meat snack company that Hershey acquired for $220 million in 2015, had failed to meet company’s expectations.

These are great brands that continue to resonate with consumers, but they require a different go-to-market model. These brands are are far more niche with much smaller market shares.

Hershey is best known for its mainstream brands that resonate with a broader segment of consumers. It makes sense for Hershey to focus its attention in areas where it has far more expertise and can promote and innovate the brands to ensure they resonate with a broader-range of consumers. The company needs to better prioritize its resources moving forward.

Read more at NOSH