Funding to Accelerate the Commercialization of Robot-Enabled Solutions to Agricultural Industry Labor Challenges
Augean Robotics, a Philadelphia-based startup developing a collaborative robotic platform for the agriculture industry, today announced that it has raised a $1.5 million seed funding round. The round was led by ffVC, with participation from S2G Ventures, Radicle Growth, and several others. As part of the round, Adam J. Plotkin from ffVC and Kirk Haney from Radicle Growth joined Augean's board.
Augean provides robot-enabled solutions to the agriculture industry, addressing the significant labor challenges faced by today's growers-chief among them rising wages and a shrinking workforce. By leveraging collaborative, data-acquisitive robots that work alongside human workers to increase productivity by up to 30%, farmers can lay the foundation for expansive, high-value autonomy.
"84% of the US crop workforce tends to largely non-mechanized fruit, vegetable, and nursery production, but rising wages and a shrinking workforce are driving growers of these specialty crops to turn to robots to reduce labor needs and costs," said Charlie Andersen, CEO and founder, Augean Robotics. "We are thrilled to have this investor support, which will allow us to accelerate the commercialization of Burro and to develop the proprietary datasets needed to enable further autonomy."
With the team's deep experience in robotics, autonomy, and machinery, it developed Burro, an autonomous platform that uses computer vision and AI to navigate farms. Some of the world's largest growers of labor-intensive crops are using Augean's robots-as-a-service today, and the company is targeting widespread commercial availability by the end of 2019.
"We really like companies in the autonomous and robotics sector that are built on an innovative tech stack that can be used to solve specific vertical, valuable and mission-critical business problems right now," said Adam J. Plotkin, partner at ff Venture Capital. "Augean Robotics, by addressing the acute labor problems facing growers, fits closely within our thesis, and we are looking forward to working together."
In October, Western Grower's Association (WGA) and S2G Ventures named Augean Robotics the winner of its annual AgSharks Competition, which was accompanied by a $250k investment and access to farm acreage for pilot testing to bring Burro to market. Today, growers of crops like table grapes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, nursery plants, and other hand-harvested crops are using Burros as virtual conveyor belts, automating in-field transport and enabling workers to focus on high-value tasks. In addition to winning the AgSharks competition, Augean has been named Judge's Choice Winner at the Start-Up Competition at the 2018 Farmer2Farmer event, a 2019 "Startup to Watch" by The Robot Report and was shortlisted as one of the most innovative pre-Series A startups in the U.S. in Farm Tech by AgFunder News.
About Augean Robotics
Founded in 2017 and based in Philadelphia, PA, Augean Robotics is developing an autonomous platform, Burro, designed to free growers and their workforce from tedious tasks, while building the modular base for greater autonomy. For more on Augean Robotics, visit www.agrbt.com, or follow on Twitter or Instagram.
ff Venture Capital (ffVC) is a seed and early-stage venture capital firm based in New York City. Founded in 2008, the firm invests, often as the lead investor, in growing technology and technology-enabled companies with the potential to become high-value, market-moving businesses across emerging industries, including artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, drones, enterprise software, and FinTech.
About S2G Ventures
S2G (Seed to Growth) is a multi-stage venture fund investing in food and agriculture. The fund's mission is to catalyze innovation to meet consumer demands for healthy and sustainable food. S2G has identified sectors across the food system that are ripe for change and is building a multi-stage portfolio including seed, venture and growth stage investments. Core areas of interest for S2G are agriculture, ingredients, infrastructure and logistics, IT and hardware, food safety and technology, retail and restaurants, and consumer brands.
About Radicle Growth
Radicle Growth is an acceleration fund dedicated to building leading companies in the ag and food tech sectors. Radicle is backed by top ag and food players, such as Corteva, Bayer, Finistere, OurCrowd, and others.