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Challenge finalist: Naio Technologies (France)

Weeding is a never-ending chore for vegetable growers, and the task is especially laborious for organic farmers, who cannot use chemical herbicides. That's where Naio Technologies comes in.

     The company developed Oz, a cute, compact robot that mechanically -- and autonomously -- weeds fields. The robot uses lasers and cameras to find its way around fields and detect different types of plants. 

     In France alone, Naio has sold or rented a total of 25 robots in two years. Its target now is to build up international sales and sell 1,000 units a year by 2020. "The Asian market is a great challenge for us," the company said. "Feeding 4.4 billion people in Asia using green innovation and without herbicides is one of the issues of the future."

     CEO Aymeric Barthes once worked as a snail farmer but admitted that it didn't work out. "I never achieved success [in snail farming] because I couldn't devote enough time to it," he said.

     The Pioneers Asia jury described Naio's technology, which blends robotics with agriculture, as "very unique."

CEO: Aymeric Barthes

http://naio-technologies.com/

Twenty-four finalists will be chosen for Pioneers Asia Challenge, the main competition for advanced-stage startups. The Nikkei Asian Review will feature three finalists each week; this is the second week of entries from Europe, which had an earlier deadline for entry than those from Asia. The two other categories of competition -- Pioneers 90 Seconds Pitch and Pioneers Showroom -- are for seed and earlier-stage startups.

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