Australian agtech The Yield has received another $11 million in funding from Japanese and German tech giants which will help it expand its product development and expand into international markets.
The investment was led by Yamaha Motor Ventures, the Silicon Valley-based investment arm of Yamaha Motor Co, while The Bosch Group, an existing major shareholder in The Yield, converted its existing loan into equity in the agtech.
The Yield uses IoT sensors, data science and artificial intelligence in its flagship product Sensing+ to make more accurate climate assessments and forecasts for growers. The company has now raised $32 million in external funding since its founding in 2014.
Founder and managing director Ros Harvey says the latest investment will be used to help scale the business with product development, patent applications, and sales and marketing.
“We’ve already got the foundation, the platform technology, the capability in place. And now what we’re really focused on is how to scale.”
Harvey says the company already holds several global patent rights for the ability to use artificial intelligence for predictions and the funding will help in the applications in new jurisdictions, which are already underway.
Yamaha Motor Ventures’ Nolan Paul, who’s responsible for the firm’s food and agtech investments says the Australian company already stands out as a global agtech leader.
“For several years, Yamaha Motor Ventures has scrutinised the global agtech sector as the food supply chain, particularly specialty crop production, is ripe for disruption,” Paul said.
“Based on our domain analysis, we selected The Yield as a best-in-class solution in delivering predictive insights for specialty crops, making it a very attractive opportunity for the Yamaha Motor Exploratory Fund.”
Harvey tells Which-50 The Yield’s technology is “extraordinary complimentary” to Yamaha’s own robotics tech and the two companies will look to integrate The Yield’s forecasts with the autonomous robots.
“By predicting locally what the weather is, rather than relying on a weather station 150kms away, by doing this we can actually increase the spray window [robots] can operate in, almost doubling it.”
Australia’s agtech industry holds a lot of potential thanks to world leading research, a diverse climate and world-renowned growers. But it struggles with commercialising its technology. Harvey says the industry’s come a long way but there’s still plenty left on the table.
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“Things like COVID-19 may accelerate [agtech] because everybody’s had to embrace digital because it’s now the new normal.
“So there’s an enormous amount of value still there that can be gained by digital transformation.”