South Africa’s Aerobotics has raised $17 million in an oversubscribed Series B round led by Naspers, with significant participation from Platform Investment Partners, FMO: Entrepreneurial Development Bank and Cathay AfricInvest Innovation.
The firm late last year announced it had raised $16.5M from FMO and Cathay AfricInvest to help it gain access to a large, international network of agribusinesses in emerging markets. Naspers is said to have invested $5.6M in this round.
In May last year, Naspers announced it invested $5.5 million (R100 million) into Aerobotics, through Naspers Foundry, to help sustain food security in South Africa.
According to James Paterson, CEO at Aerobotics, “We’re committed to providing intelligent tools to optimize automation, minimize inputs and maximize production. We look forward to further co-developing our products with the agricultural industry leaders.”
Founded in Cape Town, South Africa, Aerobotics provides farmers the intelligent tools they need to increase their yields. Aerobotics’ data is widely used for the certainty it brings to farming and food security, as the global agricultural industry stretches to meet expected population growth and food demand.
The South African startup has experienced record growth in the last few years. In the United States alone, the company’s revenue has grown in excess of an order of magnitude. The Series B investment will further technology development and product delivery in the United States and Aerobotics’ other core territories.
Aerobotics has demonstrated success in its ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. It has also seen great support from commercial-scale farmers and, more recently, crop insurance companies in the US who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.
Such investments are welcome as they bring proven skills in building global technology companies together with the capital required to continue building for, and with, the agricultural industry.
Aerobotics works simply. A user creates a free account on Aeroview, its web-based platform. The platform then allows one to order a drone flight and Aerobotis will arrange a drone pilot to fly 3 times throughout the season to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high-resolution drone imagery.
With the data, a farmer identifies areas needing attention from and then inspects these in the field using the Aeroview InField mobile app. With the derived data,a farmer will start making data-driven decisions on their farm, using the AI-based analytics platform. The reporting tool consolidates all a user’s in-field findings and alerts them to areas where action is needed.