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NZ agritech start-up successfully raises $1.5 million in an over-subscribed capital raise

Cropsy Technologies has successfully completed its first capital raise, with the award-winning ag-tech company raising $1.5 million in an over-subscribed round, ensuring it is perfectly positioned to commercialise its world-first AI-enabled crop vision system.

Cropsy unlocks the full potential of crops with its visioning technology that combines mobile, continuous and GPS-tracked high-definition image capture, with AI-enabled software to analyse crops and aid decision making for growers. Attached to a tractor and powered by the tractor battery, the Cropsy vision system sees and understands every single plant while a grower runs their daily crop operations, profiling every leaf, fruit, shoot, cane, and trunk in real-time as the tractor passes by. Eliminating sun, shadows, and reflections from the captured images preserves accurate colours and textures regardless of the time or weather.

The technology enables growers to identify pests and diseases early, for targeted spraying and reduced crop loss, as well as efficiently understanding crop growth and saving time for vineyard and orchard managers. It will boost sustainability goals for growers by ensuring resources are not applied when not needed.

The resulting maps can be accessed online and highlight areas of concern and patterns across the entire crop, so growers know precisely how their crop is performing and changing over time. This ‘digital twin’ empowers growers to achieve the previously impossible – understanding the performance of millions of plants at all times, day and night, delivering real-time, GPS-tagged data for insight-driven crop management.

Initially focussed on grapevines and with an exciting product development roadmap, Cropsy will expand into apples and oranges. Outcomes for growers include:

  • Early pest and disease identification for targeted spraying and reducing crop loss
  • Identifying missing, slowing and dead vines to flag re-planting opportunities with unprecedented precision.
  • Crop phenology – analysing bud, shoot, bunch and berry counts for yield estimation and canopy management
  • Time-savings - a digital scout that assists vineyard and orchard managers
  • Forecasting crop issues before they happen by analysing every variable in the growing operation.

Cropsy was founded by Leila Deljkovic and Ali Alomari, who met as engineering students at Auckland University. They were then joined by fellow co-founders Rory Buchanan and Winston Su.

Along the way, they have received R&D funding from Callaghan Innovation (CALLAGHAN) and AGMARDT, and received multiple awards, including two Fieldays innovation awards last year and winner of the TIN Top 10 Early stage companies. In 2021 Cropsy was accepted into two accelerator programmes – Startmate and Sprout.

Cropsy’s trial partners have included wine industry giants Pernod Ricard Winemakers and Indevin, and more recently Marisco Vineyards in Marlborough. With many customers in the pipeline, 2022 is set to be a year of growth.

The capital raise was led by Angel Investors Marlborough (AIM) as a strategic investor, given both its wine industry presence in Marlborough as well as significant other interests in agtech including orchard management and robotics. AIM is an early-stage angel investment group based in Blenheim with over 100 members. AIM is a member of the Angel Association of NZ and is one of the most active angel groups in NZ. Established in 2017, AIM has invested $17m to date into 49 companies across NZ and occasionally overseas. Although sector agnostic, AIM has significant and growing interests in agtech, fintech and SaaS.

Angel Investors Marlborough lead investor Tracy Atkin says the highly successful seed round which reached $1.8m in commitments but had to be capped at $1.5m, reflects the level of interest and confidence there is in this young agtech company. Not only was the round over-subscribed but the rolling close was also completed two months ahead of schedule.

The company has a strong cap table, including AIM, NZGCP’s Aspire NZ Seed Fund, Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1, Icehouse Ventures, Angel HQ, Enterprise Angels, and the Impact Enterprise Fund, as well as friends, family, and employees of Cropsy. Aspire NZ Seed Fund Investment Manager Byron van Vugt comments that “the strength of relationships the company has built is credit to the founders’ perseverance and is indicative of the potential for Cropsy’s innovative solution. The appointment of a formal governance board has also positioned the company well to execute on its ambitious growth plans. Aspire is proud to have worked alongside Angel Investors Marlborough throughout their Due Diligence process.”

As part of this raise, Cropsy have formed a governance board, appointing Tracy Atkin as Investor Director and Bridgit Hawkins as Independent Director, bringing a combination of strong financial expertise and global agtech scaling experience, as well as a vast network of wine industry and agri-hort contacts. Tracy, who is a Chartered Accountant and currently the CEO of Marlborough Capital Ltd, established a national grape and wine research institute in Marlborough, the Bragato Research Institute. Bridgit, who holds a Masters in Agricultural Science, is Chief Sustainability Officer for global agtech company CropX, and has a background as an entrepreneur, founding her own agtech company Regen, which was sold to CropX.

Leila says she and Ali are thrilled to have such incredible support from their investors and partners, who share their vision and passion to help take Cropsy's technology “from Blenheim to Bordeaux, and beyond. There's nothing better than seeing our system out there in the field, and creating tech that will be accessible to every grower"

Ali says it is humbling to be backed by New Zealand's finest in AgTech, and their innovative, early-adopter customers who they couldn't do their work without. “This capital injection enables us to reach our goal of looking after 10 million vines by the end of 2023."

Peter Watson from the Impact Enterprise Fund says one of the challenges he often sees in Agri-tech is the lack of easily adoptable innovation. “This is critical for us, as adoption will ultimately drive the level of impact. Cropsy impressed with its scalable solution that integrates into current operations and will reduce the use of harmful pesticides and insecticides, increase land use efficiency and reduce overall environmental impact.”

Tracy says it was a privilege to be able to lead this over-subscribed capital raise on behalf of Angel Investors Marlborough and help seed one of NZ's next agtech super-stars. “The demand from both investors to be part of this journey, and customers to sign-up to this world-leading technology, is testament to what has already been achieved and their potential for future growth."

For more information:
Cropsy Technologies
www.cropsy.tech/ 


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