Saga Robotics raises £8.5M to fund UK growth for strawberries
Norwegian agri-technology company Saga Robotics has raised £8.5 million to accelerate their growth within the strawberry sector in the UK, and accelerate further growth internationally, expanding on their current roster of US, Italy and Norway.
Since 2014, the company has developed the autonomous agricultural robot, Thorvald, which enables smarter farming by performing several integrated pest management operations simultaneously. The robot supports strawberry growers by handling high-frequency and time-consuming work, delivering increased yields, lower CO2 emissions and more sustainable food/strawberry production.
Through private placement, a new shareholder, Norwegian industrial investment company Aker, has invested £4.3 million in return for a share of 13.5% in the company. Aker now joins existing shareholders, Nysnø Climate Investment, Rabo Food and Ag Innovation Fund and Hatteland, who invested a further total of £3.4 million, and together now own 31.2% of Saga Robotics. Other stakeholders include Cibus Enterprise Fund, advised from London.
Newly appointed CEO of Saga Robotics, Anne Dingstad comments, “Aker is Norway’s leading industrial company, so naturally we’re very pleased to have them join our ownership group. As a partner they will contribute huge expertise to Saga Robotics and, together, we will further develop the company and contribute to sustainable, modernised and efficient agriculture.”
Saga Robotics is a world leader within the agricultural market, with more than 50 autonomous Thorvald robots in operation in five countries. In the UK, Thorvald has proven its effectiveness and value for farmers, especially in strawberry production. In the last season, Thorvald covered more than 30 hectares of strawberry production in plastic tunnels at Clock House Farm and drew strong interest from a number of other British strawberry farms. The new funding will allow for further growth in the UK to build on these promising results.
Beyond the UK, Thorvald’s platform versatility is successfully being used in viticulture. In this sector a slightly taller version of the strawberry-treating robot is able to perform similar tasks on vines and across vineyards, and with similarly strong results.
Saga Robotics has a solid investor base with strong knowledge of industrial and sustainable development, and a strengthened ability to scale the company and roll the technology out even more internationally. With significant growth capital, Saga Robotics will build on the successes of recent seasons and contribute to more efficient and sustainable food production, as well as increased security of supply in the food value chains.
“Saga Robotics has developed technology and solutions that will modernise and decarbonise agriculture, with the aim of contributing to zero emissions by 2050. With expertise in scaling and the use of industrial software like Cognite, Saga Robotics can take advantage of Aker’s network for further development of the technology platform, commercialisation and expansion to customers internationally,” says Martin Bech Holte, Director at Aker ASA, who will lead the venture part of Aker’s new asset management platform, recently launched as Industry Capital Partners.