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Thursday 21 October 2021

Cropsy beats the drum for funds

5th August 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

Agritech startup Cropsy Technologies is sounding out investors to raise up to $3m as it prepares for a commercial pilot in Marlborough this summer.

Chief operations officer Leila Deljkovic. Image: Stephen Barker/Barker Photography. ©NZNFS Inc

The company told the Ticker that it has been speaking with a number of investors for a seed round to fund the continued development of its AI-enabled hardware, which provides wine companies with data to optimise the management of pests and diseases in their vineyard.

Co-founder Leila Deljkovic said that raising its maximum target of $3m would give the company two years of runway, however, it would settle for adding $1.5m to its coffers – most of which would be invested in bringing additional resource into its five-strong team.

As well as looking for cash, bringing expertise to the table through investment would be a good result, according to Deljkovic.

“We’ve gotten really far on non-dilutive capital, but it’s time for us now to raise a decent amount of money so we can compete on a global stage with Israeli and US agtech companies that are doing so well,” she said.

“Our ambition is to take this to every vineyard in the world, and to do that we need the capital and the support from investors.

“We’re essentially a deeptech company, so [the ideal] investor would be understanding of the fact that this takes time – we’re dealing with living things and seasonal variations, and preferably they [would] have some agtech experience or agtech investment experience.”

All going well, the funding round would close in November providing welcome capital for the company which is currently largely relying on a $400,000 research and development loan from Callaghan Innovation to develop its system.

It is not the first time Cropsy has tried to raise capital but coming off the back of a successful trial in Blenheim of the technology with Pernod Ricard Winemakers – owners of the Brancott Estate brand among others – Deljkovic was even more optimistic of the venture’s proposition.

Cropsy’s proprietary hardware allowed growers to monitor every plant, understand the whole crop, and track how it changed over time.

The first trial saw the technology count bunches of grapes on vines and detect disease and pest problems to minimise crop loss and estimate yields. A further extended trial would be used to geolocate each plant in a vineyard, to record their individual attributes, which would give growers a detailed profile of each plant.

At the same time as pitching for funds, Cropsy was lining up partners to release its minimum viable product for use across 2,000 hectares of vines in Marlborough over the upcoming growing season.

Deljkovic said a similar northern hemisphere trial during the southern hemisphere off-season would be the next step on the road to full commercialisation, should the current fundraise be successful.



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