Small Robot Company (SRC), a British agritech start-up for sustainable farming, today announced the launch of its latest Crowdcube equity crowdfunding campaign, which already successfully hit its target of £2 million at launch. SRC has now secured £9 million in funding to date.
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 help farmers feed the world while regenerating the planet. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, we have created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming. SRC calls this Per Plant Farming. Its farming robots Tom, Dick and Harry will revolutionise yields for the world’s biggest food crops.
The funding will finance SRC’s service for farmer and corporate customers with Per Plant data, and commercialisation of its Per Plant Action capability. Investors can access the campaign at www.crowdcube.com/smallrobotcompany
SRC has overfunded on its previous three Crowdcube campaigns, raising £4.3 million. Its two previous rounds closed early, over-subscribing by 274% and 298%. In the company’s last raise, it raised £1.1 million in less than 48 hours via a private Crowdcube equity crowdfunding campaign, which was subsequently matchfunded by the government Future Fund scheme, achieving £2.2 million successful funding in total.
The funding secured in its previous round has accelerated development through key hires, speeding time to market. Newhires following the raise include:
- David Moser as CTO Ex-Director of Research and Technology at Blatchford, the multi-award winning manufacturer of the world’s most advanced mechatronic prosthetics.
- Charlie Box as Head of Innovation, joining from Dyson where he spent ten years in the innovation team
- Tom Watsham as Head of Intelligence, joining from Google DeepMind, where as Research Scientist he led on its Google Assistant development
- Shereen Okotie – Inception Manager Ex-Senior Project Manager, Dyson.
- Kieran Southward – Electronics Engineer Ex-Systems engineer, Haas F1 Team.
- Ross Cassells – Experience designer Ex-Product designer, Hummingbird.
“Launching fully funded is a clear indication that our investors see the trajectory Small Robot Company is on. In our wildest dreams, we hadn’t imagined such a landslide success. This overwhelming support really demonstrates the huge appetite for agritech – and the demand from farmers.,” comments Sam Watson-Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company. “It’s inspiring to see how much support there is for innovation in agriculture. It feels like the time is right for these technologies to start making a difference. We are now very well set for next phase: commercial delivery.”
Small Robot Company has now secured £9 million in funding to date, including £4.4 million from its previous Crowdcube rounds, and £1.56 million 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.
Industry reactions: game changing innovation
Matt Jones, Principal Designer, Google AI, and investor in Small Robot Company says: “Anything that can help change for the better the way we produce food on this planet is urgently needed,” comments. “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, comments: “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. We have started small robot trials at Wimpole and intend to extend trials to other estates in the near future.”
Dr Belinda Clarke, Director, Agri-TechE, comments: “The pace of agri-tech innovation in the last 5 years has increased rapidly in recent years and is already showing commercial impact on farms. New tech solutions are poised to make an even more dramatic contribution to increasing the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of global agriculture. Game-changing technologies, coupled with creative, effective partnerships will be key to making this a reality, and those pioneered by Small Robot Company are great examples of how this is happening in practice.”
Tom Allen-Stevens – farmer, editor of Crop Production magazine and previously Oxford Farming Conference chair, investor and SRC farmer advisory group comments: “I do seriously believe that Small Robot Company’s technology is going to deliver a step change in how we farm and how we think about farming in the future. And if you want to be part of that journey, then there’s no better way than to invest in the small robots and come along with it. Small Robot Company’s impact is still resonating out and they could have a profound impact on how this industry shapes up.”
Andrew Ward, MBE and Farmers Weekly Farming Champion, investor and SRC farmer advisory group says: “I invested because robotics and automation are going to be at the heart of agriculture. Environmental care coupled with efficient and profitable food production. We’re under pressure to use less chemistry and less inputs on the crop – applying products to 100% of a field needs to change. Robotics is the way forward. Investing will help Small Robot Company develop these robots into useful tools for our future. This is the fourth agricultural revolution.”
Will Evans, Oxford Farming Conference director, farmer and farming industry Influencer – Rock & Roll farming podcast – SRC investor and 100 Club member concludes: “I invested because I believe Small Robot Company’s vision encapsulates the future of agriculture – and the scale of opportunity is huge. We’re on the cusp of tremendous change. SRC’s tech is front and centre of the fourth agricultural revolution. And I’m impressed by the talent and tenacity of the team. They’re the ones taking farming forward.
Sam Watson Jones concludes: “The opportunity is immense. Our technology is closely aligned with the new Agricultural Bill: our technology is at the heart of these systemic changes in farming. Now is the time for us to work together to create a more sustainable farming model: and for farmers – rightly – to be rewarded for their efforts. The recent huge advances in agtech finally make this possible: and farmers are integral to the environmental solution.”