Precision ag start-up primed for growth after new partnerships

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Verdi’s micro block controller used for controlling the delivery of water and fertilisers to crops
Verdi’s micro block controller used for controlling the delivery of water and fertilisers to crops

Related tags Precision agriculture

Canada-based Verdi says new support from Silicon Valley accelerators will allow it to rapidly scale its platform for farm automation.

Silicon Valley-based venture studio NEC X – which helps entrepreneurs turn innovative ideas into successful technology-driven businesses – has revealed a new investment in Verdi Expeditions Inc., which claims to be the world’s first scalable platform for farm automation and personalised plant healthcare.

Based in British Columbia, Verdi has built a platform that aims to help farmers overcome challenges such as water scarcity, heat stress, and frost through technologies like variable rate irrigation, intelligent infrastructure automation, and heat/frost protection. Its smart hardware integrates with existing irrigation systems to enable precise, automated delivery of water and fertilisers to crops based on plant-level data. This aims to help farmers significantly improve crop productivity while reducing water usage and other risks and allows them to earn carbon credits and get rewarded for increasing soil carbon sequestration.

NEC X gives comprehensive support including funding, mentorship, access to cutting-edge technologies, engineering resources, business development, and go-to-market strategies to the entrepreneurs it supports.

Verdi will join Elev X! Boost, which provides start-ups on the brink of significant scaling with a customisable blend of capital, strategic partnerships and integrations with NEC’s expansive tech ecosystem. Elev X says it fuels start-up success from inception to launch, connecting innovators with its 45,000 patents; global network of partners, mentors and advisors; reach into 55+ international markets; and $8 billion R&D ecosystem.

NEC X will collaborate with Verdi to enhance its technology and geographic reach, with a view to empowering Verdi’s farm automation capabilities and expand support for agricultural production.

Verdi’s technology will also merge into NEC's smart farming management system called CropScope, which provides AI-based recommendations to farmers on optimal timing and amounts for irrigation, fertilization, and harvesting of crops. CropScope is currently being used by Kagome, Japan's largest supplier of tomato ketchup and tomato juice, to improve farm irrigation practices in Portugal.

Why innovative agricultural infrastructure is needed

NEC X said the new partnership illustrates its efforts to foster strategic alliances that bridge technological gaps, drive innovation and accelerate the adoption of transformative start-ups globally.

“With increasingly severe weather and resource scarcity globally, it’s clear that we need new, innovative agricultural infrastructure that is both efficient and sustainable,” said Shintaro Matsumoto, President and CEO of NEC X. “NEC X is committed to addressing this urgent issue through our strategic investment in Verdi, whose innovative solutions are set to transform farming practices. We’re confident Verdi will make a lasting impact, as part of Elev X! Boost and the CropScope initiative.”

"Our strategic partnership, collaboration and integration with NEC X is invaluable as we enhance our AI capabilities and scale our platform to reach new markets, added Arthur Chen, CEO and Co-founder of Verdi. “With NEC’s international reach and deep sector expertise, we are uniquely positioned to be a global leader. NEC X’s support is more than an investment – it’s a partnership focused on startup success.”

Founded in 2020 by Canadian entrepreneurs Arthur Chen and Roman Kozak, Verdi says it is building modern automation tools for agriculture and solving the scaling challenges that have traditionally prevented the widespread adoption of farm automation. Verdi’s devices are designed to transform existing farm infrastructure (ex. irrigation equipment) into smart systems capable of AI-powered automation, enabling farmers to boost crop and workforce productivity while significantly reducing technology adoption costs.

SVG Ventures has also announced a follow-on investment in Verdi

California-based early-stage tech investor SVG Ventures has also announced a follow-on investment in Verdi through its Pioneer Fund – the third fund launched by SVG Ventures targeting CAD$75 million in total capital commitments.

SVG Ventures has invested in over 80 global agri-food tech companies to date across its previous funds. Notable portfolio companies include Tortuga AgTech, FarmWise, Milk Moovement, Boomitra, Trace Genomics and Burro

This new funding aims to further propel Verdi’s expansion and enhance its innovative personalised plant healthcare platform across North America.

Since its initial investment, SVG said Verdi has demonstrated remarkable progress by collaborating with the world’s leading food brands to tackle pressing agricultural challenges in the wine, fruit, and nut sectors. Verdi’s technology has not only increased marketable yields by 10% but also significantly reduced water and fertiliser usage, achieving up to 60% water savings and 10% less fertilizer usage. This efficiency boost has resulted in saving over 30 million liters of water in 2023, up from 7 million liters of water saved in 2022.

John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Ventures, commended Verdi’s progress, stating, “Verdi is leading the charge in tackling the critical agricultural challenges brought about by climate change. Our decision to increase our investment reflects our confidence in Verdi’s technology and its ability to significantly enhance crop yields and efficiency for farmers globally.”

“We are grateful for the continued support from SVG Ventures and NEC X as we advance our mission to optimise agricultural productivity and sustainability,” added Chen. “This additional investment will enable us to accelerate our technology deployment, expand our reach, and continue delivering significant benefits to our partners and the planet.”

SVG Ventures’ added that its additional investment in Verdi reinforces both parties’ dedication to pioneering solutions that enhance agricultural efficiency and sustainability, ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.

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