Biological control and pollinator supplier, Biobest is stepping-up their initial commercial collaboration by investing $10 million in B.C.-based agtech company, ecoation.
“We have been impressed not only by ecoation’s technology leadership but also by their deep connection with leading growers. Their capacity to deploy a broad array of new technologies to deliver practical and economical solutions for the world’s most ambitious greenhouse growers is truly outstanding,” says Jean-Marc Vandoorne, Biobest CEO.
Karel Bolckmans, COO of Biobest, see this delivering value to growers in three ways. “Firstly, using biological control to its maximum potential requires that we get the best and earliest possible understanding of what’s going on in terms of pest and disease pressure. This is exactly what the ecoation platform will provide. Secondly, we will translate this superior knowledge into even better advice with regard to biocontrol intervention actions. That’s where our technology collaboration will leverage the knowledge of Biobest’s technical experts to make it more widely and more easily accessible, even in situations where our experts may not be able to make frequent on-site visits. Thirdly, the range of functionalities of the ecoation platform goes well beyond IPM and includes other value-added items like yield prediction, high-resolution climate optimization, quality control of produce and greenhouse labor. Our global network of technical advisors with regular grower interactions will help ecoation stand by growers to provide regular personal advice and direct support for the full range of functionalities.”
Traditionally, a greenhouse environment is controlled by means of spot measurements of a number of parameters. IPM related information is traditionally recorded by technical scouting staff walking the greenhouse and taking notes.
Both companies will join forces to “develop new IPM related technologies and go global with their commercial alliance,” states the press release.
The ecoation human + machine technology platform uses robots and sensors to deliver a fine-mazed data-matrix with details in time and space. Sensors allow the system to pick up early signs of stress and disease in plants and interpret these signs before they are even noticed by a human scout.
The Biobest investment follows on the heels of $10 million in public funding from the Canadian government and an earlier infusion of $2.5 million from existing investors through a round led by Pallasite Ventures.
In total, this infusion of $22.5 million “will support a successful commercial roll-out of ecoation’s cutting-edge dynamic data harvesting platform based on a combination of deep biology, computer vision, sensor technology, AI, and robotics,” states the press release.
“We started interacting with Biobest three years ago and today is the beginning of a substantial new chapter in our collaboration,” says Dr. Saber Miresmailli, founder and CEO of ecoation. “At a pivotal moment for ecoation and for growers faced with labour shortages, regulatory pressures and the need to find ever-better ways to protect their crops, the partnership with Biobest now enables to scale-up a game-changing approach to how we produce and protect our food.”
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