More blue-chip firms set to offer data science for ag businesses

By John Reynolds on Tuesday 25 January 2022

More blue-chip firms set to offer data science for ag businesses
Image source: More blue-chip firms set to offer data science for ag businesses

Microsoft and Bayer have agreed to make digital products for agriculture and the CEO of a startup that forecasts fruit yields believes more blue-chip companies will enter the space.

A startup specialising in forecasting fruit yields believes the AgTech data science industry is set for a boom.

Raviv Kula, CEO and co-founder of Tel Aviv-based FruitSpec, points to the recent tie-up between Microsoft and Bayer, who have agreed to make digital products for agriculture, as an indicator.

The two giants have penned an agreement to develop digital tools and data science capabilities, helping small-scale startups and big businesses in areas like farming operations, supply-chain improvement and sourcing products.

“I believe we are going to see more giants in terms of investment and products going into the supply chain,” says Kula.

FruitSpec has just completed a $5m fundraise and has raised around $9.5m to date, since it was founded in 2016.

FruitSpec’s Yield Management Platform uses technology that it says provides accurate fruit yield data.

Its sensor pods mounted on vehicles scan the trees in an orchard, and then, via an algorithm, fruit sizes and yields can be estimated.

FruitSpec’s customers are fruit packing houses and by accurately forecasting fruit yields, FruitSpec says important commercial decisions can be made at an early stage throughout the supply chain.

“Because nobody really knows what is the yield that they are going to have. And every business decision that you are doing along the supply chain is related to it," says Kula.

FruitSpec employs around 25 people and is looking to grow headcount by up to 25 per cent over the year.

It is now on the hunt for partners, which can leverage its technology.

Kula points to the example of an irrigation firm that can use its sensors to garner crucial data.

Raviv says the current $5m funding from the current round will be used to boost sales and marketing.

The funding round was led by Amathaon Capital, a European AgTech investment firm, Ocean Azul, a North American early-stage venture capital firm and Smart-Agro, an R&D partnership that focuses on agro-food investments.

The round was also supported by current investors, including The Trendlines Group the venture capital firm backed by tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz.

He also says that FruitSpec is likely to return to the market for a further funding round in around 12 months time.