...latest equity crowdfunding campaign seeks £700,000 to fund weed zapping plus fleet of Tom robots for commercial weed mapping service…
…$10 billion global precision farming opportunity open for private investors...
...Campaign hits more than 80% within minutes of launch...
Salisbury, 13 January 2020 Small Robot Company (SRC), a British agritech start-up for sustainable farming, today announced the launch of its latest Crowdcube equity crowdfunding campaign. The campaign seeks £700,000 to finance SRC’s non-chemical weed zapping robot Dick to field trials, and the manufacture of a fleet of Tom monitoring robots for its commercial weed mapping service. Investors can access the campaign at www.crowdcube.com/smallrobotcompany.
Agriculture is a $2.4 trillion industry, with the precision farming market a huge global opportunity for investors. Goldman Sachs predicts that the market for digital agricultural technology will be $240 billion by 2050, up from just over $5 billion today.
Small Robot Company's mission is to maximise food production while reducing its cost on the environment. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, it has created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming. Its farmbots Tom, Dick and Harry will plant, monitor and treat arable crops autonomously, with minimal waste.
“Precision farming is a $10 billion opportunity. Agriculture is on the cusp of radical change. Precision, and not speed, will define the future of farming - and our technology is leading the charge,” comments Sam Watson-Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company. “There is a huge amount of investment going into agritech at the moment, and Crowdcube opens this opportunity up for private investors. Almost a third of our previous £1.2 million successful crowdfunding raise was from farmers, demonstrating the readiness of this industry to embrace change.”
“Since our last raise, we have achieved our major delivery milestone of moving from proof of concept to commercially-ready prototype. This next raise will help us to begin manufacturing our robots, as well as delivering our weed zapping technology,” comments Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder, Small Robot Company. “Today, we’re delivering an AI-generated field map which has the potential to show the exact location of every plant and all of the weeds on UK farms, and we’re the first to market with a product of this sort. This year we’ll kill these weeds autonomously without using chemicals. With pressure increasing from regulators and herbicide resistant weeds, this will be game-changing.”
Small Robot Company has secured more than £2.5 million in funding to date, including £1.2 million from its previous Crowdcube raise, and more than £1million in government Innovate UK grants. This includes an £800,000 grant for its ‘Wilma’ artificial intelligence weed recognition and ‘Tom’ weed mapping technology. This was one of the largest single agritech grants made under Innovate UK’s innovation scheme in 2018.
“Anything that can help change for the better the way we produce food on this planet is urgently needed,” comments Matt Jones, Principal Designer, Google AI, fellow of the Small Robot and investor in Small Robot Company. “I’m excited to invest and support the Small Robot Company team in their mission to change farming for the better with humanscale AI and robotics.”
Rob Macklin, the National Trust’s head of farming and soils said: “Technology needs to play a big part in solving many of the issues we currently face in farming – particularly improving soil health and carbon sequestration, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel power and fertilisers and avoiding the adverse impacts of synthetic chemicals on the environment.
“As the country’s largest conservation charity, along with our 1,700 farm tenants and graziers we are one of the country’s biggest farmers. We want to encourage nature friendly farming practices – and we have to lead by example and embrace innovations. We have started small robot trials at Wimpole and intend to extend trials to other estates in the near future.”
Milestones and momentum
Small Robot Company is currently in field trials on 20 farms across the UK, working in conjunction with its trial farmers to develop its sustainable farming technology . Trial farms include the Waitrose Leckford Estate farm and the National Trust Wimpole Estate, who are both already trialling SRC’s first commercial weed mapping service, which uses SRC’s next generation ‘Tom’ monitoring robot to first locate the weeds. This is the world's first service for individual plant mapping at broadacre scale.
Working together in partnership with British start up RootWave, Small Robot Company has successfully completed development of its ‘Dick’ non-chemical weeding robot prototype to in-lab proof of concept stage, Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4.0. An initial prototype will go into field trials in 2020.