Pontifax Leads $17M Series B for Blue River Technology
December 16, 2015
Agricultural computer vision, machine learning, and robotics firm, Blue River Technology, announced it has raised $17 million in a Series B led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech). The round also involved a wide field of venture capital funds including Monsanto Growth Ventures, which joined as a new investor, and existing investors Data Collective Venture Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
Although Monsanto would not disclose how much it invested in the round, Ryan Rakestraw, principal with Monsanto Growth Ventures told the St. Louis Business Journal that it was a ‘significant amount’. The fund is aiming to invest a minimum of $150 million in startups by 2020.
Blue River Technology produces tractor-towed robotic systems that can gather precise data on a per-plant basis including health, structure, and needs, and treat each plant in real time in a field, cutting the need for agri-chemical treatments by up to 90%.
“By targeting herbicides to weeds and not bare soil or the crops we grow, we can drive a huge reduction in chemical use and increase environmental sustainability and health – while also improving yields and saving farmers money,” said Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology in a company statement.
The firm plans to use the capital raised in its latest round of fundraising to expand its engineering and scientific teams, and to advance the development of its robotics offerings. “With our new funding, we’re looking to build our team with the industry’s most talented engineers and scientists to advance the boundaries of computer vision, machine learning and robotics in agriculture to solve one of the world’s largest problems – sustainable agriculture,” added Mr. Heraud.
Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Blue River’s first commercial application pertains to the thinning and weeding of specialty vegetable crops, and its technology is now being applied to 10% of U.S. lettuce fields. Moving forward, the company plans to expand the application of its technologies that can replace broadcast sprays to other crops.
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