Lincoln 31.08.2020 - The traditions of the agricultural industry are set for a technological shift. Norwegian and UK based Saga Robotics has recently raised EUR 9.5 million from international investors in support of its ambitious growth plans.
Interest in Thorvald has soared
Demand for increased automation in the world's largest industry is booming. The agricultural sector employs roughly 1.1 billion people worldwide yet continues to face challenges with labour shortages. The coronavirus pandemic has added further strain to the situation, limiting the amount of available labour on farms and impacting overall food production. The need for environmentally conscious, sustainable solutions is imperative, making the case for robotics solutions stronger than ever.
Thorvald robots are operating on multiple farms across the world, where they perform light treatment to control mildew on strawberries and vines, drastically reducing the need for fungicides. Development of highly anticipated autonomous strawberry pickers is underway, and their commercial deployment is soon to follow. The technology developed for Thorvald offers substantial benefits to farmers and, paired with its cost-effectiveness, has the potential to revolutionise the industry to the same extent the tractor did. Farmers are welcoming the advances in technology and the waiting list for the services provided by Saga Robotics is growing rapidly. Farms in Norway, the US and the UK have already chosen Saga Robotics as their robotic partner of choice after seeing product results and the versatility and integration efficiency of the Thorvald platform.
Large investors are contributing to the technology adventure
Modern agriculture is changing, and large international investors see opportunities in this technology. The Norwegian sovereign climate investment company Nysnø Climate Investments invests with reputable London-based ADM Capital Europe LLP and Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund, the investment arm of world-leading Dutch agricultural bank Rabobank. The lead investors were also joined by a group of Norwegian investors including Propagator Venture.
“Agriculture has experienced enormous development in recent decades which has enabled much of the population growth, as well as the growth in prosperity we have seen in the last 50 years. Now that we must double our food production again by 2050, we see that robotization and digitalisation will be key elements in the agricultural revolution that is needed to achieve these goals. Our goal is for Thorvald to play a key role in the transition to more sustainable and efficient farming practises, and we see enormous market opportunities for growth internationally in all the segments we operate in”, says Pål Johan From, CEO of Saga Robotics.
“The challenge is to increase food production in a changing climate. The Saga robot technology shows us a promising future where artificially intelligent and precise machines use less resources to achieve higher yield. Together with leading investors, we look forward to the further scaling of Thorvald and growth of Saga Robotics, says Siri Kalvig, CEO of Nysnø Climate Investments”, Says Siri Kalvig of Nysnø Climate Investments
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to advance the use of robotics in agriculture, as technology will play an increasing part in reducing labour risk in the harvesting process. The Cibus Enterprise Fund is excited to add Saga Robotics to its growing portfolio of sustainable agri-food tech investments. Saga’s robots improve sustainability in farming by reducing soil compression, CO2 emissions and production losses due to mildew. Using precision farming technology, Saga reduces pesticide and fungicide use and increases plant yields. With quality data applications we will start to see greater actionable intelligence provided to farmers “, says Alastair Cooper, Head of Venture Investments at ADM Capital Europe LLP.
“As a specialist food and agri investor, we at the Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund are deeply aware of the increasing necessity for automation in driving efficiencies in how we grow and harvest our food. There are several aspects to the associated benefits, including improved labour, inputs, yield, cost and quality management and in turn tangible sustainability improvements. Given the progress and deep R&D capability shown to date, we are very proud to partner with Saga Robotics as they roll out more functionality on the base Thorvald robot and look forward to scaling the company together with a strong group of investors”, adds Richard O’Gorman, Managing Director at Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund.
About Saga Robotics
Saga Robotics is the company responsible for the design, development, and production of the world-leading agricultural robot, Thorvald. The company's aim is to develop robotic solutions that address the growing labour shortages in agriculture, as well as making agriculture more sustainable and energy efficient. Saga Robotics have developed an autonomous and completely self-propelled robot that uses advanced algorithms to navigate in challenging conditions found on farms. Saga Robotics is also involved in several projects where they develop tools for strawberry picking, weeding, crop prediction and much more. The first Thorvald robot was built in Norway in 2014, and there are now more than 30 of them in operation in five different countries. The company has received support from Innovation Norway, the Norwegian Research Council, Innovate UK and the EU's Horizon 2020 program. Saga Robotics have a close collaboration with Berry Gardens Growers who are also an early adopter of the technology. The technology has been developed in collaboration with NMBU, University of Lincoln, Cornell University, University of Florida, and others.
For more information visit: www.sagarobotics.com
About Nysnø Climate Investments
Established in 2017, Nysnø Climate Investments (Nysnø) is a state-owned company that invests in companies and funds with profitable and smart solutions to climate change. With 1.7 billion NOK in assets under management Nysnø invests within clean energy, digital and enabling technologies, resource efficiency, sustainable demand and the circular economy. Nysnø is based in Stavanger and owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry & Fisheries.
For more information visit www.nysnoinvest.no/en
About ADM Capital
ADM Capital is a Hong Kong and London-based private credit and private equity fund manager and adviser. Founded in 1998, ADM Capital manages or advises USD 2.39bn across a range of funds. With over 45 people operating out of 4 international offices, ADM Capital operates in the private credit markets through its Hong Kong office and in food and farming globally through its Cibus platform. ADM Capital Europe LLP launched Cibus Enterprise Fund in 2019, focussed on investing growth capital into sustainably run, global food and agriculture companies. The ADM Capital Foundation was established by ADM Capital in 2006 to address environmental and social challenges across Asia and prosecute sustainability practices across the ADM Capital investment portfolio.
For more information visit www.admcapital.com
About Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund
Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund “RFAIF” (www.rfaif.com
) is a division of Rabo Corporate Investments and the captive venture fund of Rabobank, a global leader in providing international finance to the food and agriculture sector. RFAIF leverages Rabobank’s extensive global network and sector knowledge to support the growth and success of start-up companies leading innovation across the food and agricultural supply chain.