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DealStreetAsia

Singapore Vertex and Malaysia Kuok lead $30m agritech round

Taranis uses AI-equipped drones to analyze weeds and other crop killers

Taranis drones have helped John Deere, Syngenta, Nutrien, Climate Corp and BASF to monitor and maintain the health of crops.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- U.S.-headquartered agricultural intelligence startup Taranis announced on Tuesday the close of a $30 million Series C round led by Vertex Growth and Orion Fund, a venture fund backed by Southeast Asian conglomerate Kuok Group.

The round was joined by new investors, including Hitachi Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Micron Ventures, UMC Capital, La Maison, Mindset Ventures, iAngels and Gal Yarden.

Existing investors in the round included Vertex Ventures Israel, Viola Ventures, Finistere and OurCrowd.

Taranis uses high-resolution drone images and artificial intelligence to analyze crop threats such as insect infestation, weeds, and nutrient deficiencies. With $60 million in funding to date, the startup now plans a broader rollout of its services.

"Until recently, growers have had to wait on time-consuming manual scouting to assess threats, formulate an action plan, and react," said Taranis CEO and co-founder Ofir Schlam. "Our intelligence service takes out the guesswork and brings hyperlocal, real-time insights from the fields to your fingertips."

The company's proprietary AI2 SmartScout Solutions can capture images of fields covering 100 acres at a resolution of 0.3mm per pixel from planes and drones in six minutes.

So far, Taranis has worked with retail, agriculture equipment and crop protection companies, including John Deere, Syngenta, Nutrien, Climate Corp and BASF.

In 2018, Taranis raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Viola Ventures, a Tel Aviv-based venture. It also bagged $7.5 million in a Series A led by Finistere Ventures, Vertex Ventures and Vertex Ventures Israel in 2017.

"The agtech market will soon see consolidation around imagery and vision AI with just a few strong players remaining," said Vertex Growth Hock Chuan Tam in a statement. "We firmly believe that Taranis' unique technology will lead the pack."

Backed by Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings, Vertex Growth provides expansion capital to companies from Vertex's early-stage fund network. It closed its first vehicle at $290 million in September 2019.

For the original story from DealStreetAsia, click here.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on private equity, venture capital and corporate investment activity in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, India and Greater China. Nikkei owns a majority stake in the company.

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