Use of technology has notably accelerated in the agriculture sector over the years, with Europe being at the forefront. From using robots to grow food to employing advanced aeroponic technology for increasing plant yield, AgTech or agriculture technology is now more widespread than ever. With such notable advancements, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Amsterdam-based agtech startup Connecterra has set a new benchmark by securing the biggest Series B investment round for a European livestock tech company.
Connecterra secures €7.8M for its AI-based herd monitoring system
With €7.8 million, Connecterra secured the biggest Series B investment round for a European livestock tech company. Investors participating in the latest round include AgTech specialists ADM Capital, who also invested in the AgTech unicorn AeroFarms. Additionally, the leading international food safety enterprise Kersia, headquartered in France, and Dutch impact investor, Pymwymic, also took part in the new round. Existing investors Breed Reply and Sistema_VC are joined the round as well. Connecterra was represented by Humphreys Law through the process.
“Empowering farmers and the industry with a connected, AI-driven platform is a necessity for the future of food production. The COVID-19 outbreak brings sharp focus upon the weaknesses in our food system that is disconnected and faces threats from climate change, and a dwindling labour workforce. With the support of our top-class investors, customers and partners, we are well-positioned to democratise access to our technology to millions of farmers across the globe”, says Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra.
Boosting regenerative farming practices with AI
Connecterra’s mission is to train Artificial Intelligence in farming. This will enable empowering farmers of all sizes to increase the productivity of their farm, while reducing the notable impact animal agriculture has on our planet. The primary solution by the company is Ida, an artificial intelligence-based system. It connects farmers and the value chain for identifying issues on a farm, recommending solutions, and supporting farmers transition to sustainable farming. It also enables running the most efficient dairy farm by working with farmers to identify issues, recommend solutions, and streamline operations.
Ida started off as simple sensor tech but it has now evolved into a full-stack technology and AI platform. Connecterra combines proprietary sensor hardware, animal data, third-party enterprise data, and machine-learning algorithms in Ida. The solution enables users to track the management of individual cows and delivers information such as milk yield, management of antibiotic plans and biological cycles.
The Ida platform is used by industry giants such as Danone, Bayer and food safety expert Kersia. It is helping create sustainable farming models that are said to have eliminated hormones and antibiotic usage by up to 50%, alongside increasing farm efficiency. Due to COVID-19, adoption of new tech in the farming sector has accelerated. The Agriculture sector is facing issues of dwindling workforce and the pressure to do more with fewer resources. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Rogier Pieterse, Managing Director, Pymwymic, said: “Connecterra can significantly contribute to the transition of this traditional industry by reducing its negative footprint, supporting smallholder farmers in developing countries and accelerating regenerative practices. We look forward to supporting them in embedding this impact.”
The startups’ story
Connecterra was founded back in 2014 by the company’s CTO Saad Ansari and CEO Yasir Khokhar. Headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the startup already operates in 16 countries and has over 30 employees. Since its founding, it has raised a notable amount in Seed and Series A funding rounds, along with grants. The total funding amount secured by the company till now stands at €18 million.
The company’s foundation is based on the idea of solving issues our planet is facing. One such pressing issue is that by 2050, a 60% improvement in global food productivity will be required to feed an estimated population of 10 billion people. Another issue that the company is solving is of the dairy industry, which isn’t highly efficient and production methods aren’t highly sustainable.
With the amount raised in the new investment, Connecterra will focus on growing its presence in dairy leading regions such as Europe, North America and New Zealand. The company is also working on further scaling out and developing the AI models and technology behind Ida.
The agtech space is surely getting interesting with small players coming in with their innovative technology. What remains in store for the future is difficult to predict but it surely seems that AI and data driven solutions would lead the charge. What do you think about the future of agtech? Let us know in the comments below.