AgroScout Closes $3 Million Funding Round for Its AI-based Solution for Sustainable Crop Protection
6 April 2020
AgroScout announced it completed an investment round of $3 million for its AI-based solution for sustainable crop protection. The investment round was led by Kibbutz Yiron, and included other investors: the Exit Valley crowd-funding platform, Agriline, The Trendlines Group, and grants from the Israel Innovation Authority and the BIRD Foundation).
AgroScout’s solution integrates external data collected by drones (together with AI software, deep learning and computer vision) to accurately and autonomously detect, identify, and monitor diseases, pests, and other agronomic problems in field crops. Farmers lose between 20% and 40% of their yield to disease and pests (FAO). Today, to mitigate spread of disease in fields, agronomists perform manual, visual checks in different parts of the field every few days. This provides limited coverage (around 5% to 10%), and in most places, no scouting is done. Therefore, diseases are often only detected at later stages when the disease has escalated, and large amounts of pesticides are needed to control the problem. AgroScout’s solution aims to dramatically reduce the amounts of chemicals used to treat disease. Using less pesticides lowers costs and meets increasing regulation and consumer demand for more sustainable agricultural practices.
For most farmers, advanced agronomic and remote monitoring systems are too expensive and inaccessible, creating a tremendous market potential for AgroScout. As its system relies on off-the-shelf low-cost equipment, such as smartphones and small commercial drones, AgroScout provides an affordable and easy-to-use solution based solely on user-generated content.
In 2019, AgroScout received an award of excellence by the Israel Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development. In December 2019, The BIRD Foundation awarded a conditional grant of $1 million for the project between AgroScout and Bird Stop (a docking system technology from Silicon Valley) to set up a fully autonomous solution for the field, enabling unprecedented daily data collection. This summer, AgroScout and Bird Stop will deploy this autonomous solution for a large North American potato processor. Pilot projects are also under way in Latin America with PepsiCo and its growers. In parallel to its pilot programs, commercials sales have begun in the United States, Latin America, and Israel.
AgroScout is a member of Oracle for Startups, Oracle’s initiative to support entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide, and is a proud early adopter o Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science.
AgroScout CEO Simcha Shore commented, “The investment from a strategic investor such as Kibbutz Yiron, an agribusiness with a deep understanding of the sector’s needs, is a vote of confidence in our technology and approach. The funding will allow us to expand our market reach significantly and broaden our services to our customers, offering them a viable and valuable solution to one of the most urgent issues facing farmers today. We expect this new round to enable us to deepen our strong relationship with Oracle, to offer a flexible, cutting-edge AI solution for farmers, enabling them to increase their yields and contributeÂ to global food security for all.”
Kibbutz Yiron’s Economic Committee Chairman Shalom Simchon, previously Israel’s Minister of Agriculture, commented, “To maximize yields, mitigate disease and loss of produce, farmers have to incorporate advanced technology in their daily work. We are excited about AgroScout’s abilities to provide early detection of pests, disease, and other risks for crops, enabling real-time farmer interventions to decrease pesticide use, lower production costs and grow produce in a more sustainable way.”
“We believe that companies like AgroScout, which Agriline has invested in,” commented Vincent Tchenguiz, “have tremendous potential to significantly impact and optimize more sustainable food production, that, in the long run, will reduce CO2 and other pollutants that are contributing so much to the global warming crisis. We develop financial models. This is our expertise. These days we are in the process of developing a new financial model. This investment is strategic and in line with our “Earth Ecosystem” model. (Agriline is an investment vehicle owned by a trust of which Tchenguiz is a discretionary beneficiary.)
AgroScout CEO Simcha Shore